A New Drug for Protecting Fertility During Chemotherapy


The reaserch team at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer (Credit:Sheba Medical Center)

AS101 diagram
Israeli researchers developed a treatment that can be administered to women undergoing chemotherapy which can successfully prevent damage to fertility.
Researchers from the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer in collaboration with Bar-Ilan University’s Cancer AIDS and Immunology Research Institute have found a way to tackle the problem of women reduced fertility following chemotherapy treatments. For many years it has been known that Alkylating agents such as cyclophosphamide used in chemotherapy are toxic to a women’s ovaries.
Until now many women have been freezing their eggs before chemotherapy treatments and receiving them back using IVF procedure. However this is an invasive treatment with varying degrees of success and one which is not necessarily suitable for every women.
During their research the scientists discovered that cyclophosphamide damages women’s ovaries in two different ways. The first way has to do with the cyclophosphamide agent’s tendency to attack dividing cells such as the ones found in a woman’s ovaries. The second way in which the agent damages fertility has to do with the activation of dormant follicles which basically forces them to grow and making them vulnerable to the effects of the drug.
The researchers developed a new type of experimental drug called AS101, found to block the activation of dormant follicles. Using mice as test models the researchers were able to show that after administering chemotherapy and using the AS101 drug the mice had normal fertility rates while the ones that did not receive the treatment had lower rate of pregnancy and fewer total offspring.
AS101 was also proven to be helpful in cancer treatment on its own, making it twice as useful for cancer patients. Further research will be needed to establish the exact method in which AS101 should be used on humans.
More information can be found on the abstract of the article recently published by the scientists (see abstract/paid version).