Scientists offer new hope for infertile women. In a decade, wombs can be grown from their own stem cells.
In the next 10 years, new wombs could be grown using a woman's stem cells, offering hope for infertile females.
The first womb transplants in UK are being planned, after the Imperial College London received the green signal. Even though there has not been any further news from the college about the surgery, it might soon go out of practice due to stem cell therapy. In a decade, new wombs can be grown from infertile women's own stem cells and implanted into them.
Professor Matts Brannstrom undertook the first successful womb transplant in 2014 on a Swedish woman. He explained that bio-engineering is helpful and can obviate risks of transplants. It is possible for the body to reject the transplanted womb if the recipient consumes strong immune-suppressant drugs.
Womb patches have so far been successfully grown in laboratory rats from stem cells. With the process getting translated to the human womb, grown and transplanted from her stem cells, there would be fewer complications and no need for drugs, according to Brannstrom at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists World Congress.
The concept is you create from stem cells of the recipient and transplant that into the recipient," Prof Brannstrom told the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) world congress.
"You have a substitute for a damaged organ and keep it without immuno-suppression. We have started in a rat, and we have now published a paper where we have not been able to create a whole uterus but uterus-patches, bio-engineered. These may be the future, but we'll, of course, need a lot of research."
Brannstrom, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, has conducted nine womb transplants, leading to five births. He said the procedure could be perfected for humans in 10 to 15 years.
His nine transplant experiments were not all successful. He had to remove two of the wombs after one of the women got infected, while another contracted thrombosis. One of the nine women went in for a second baby from the transplanted womb. Hence, the "take-home-baby-rate" works out to be 71 percent.
Robotics can help to harvest the uterus through surgery, for which the professor has obtained ethical permission. Hence, the transplant procedure can be reduced from the existing 10 to 12 hours to 6 to 8 hours.
Women suffer from "absolute uterine factor infertility (AUFI)," or a state in which the uterus is missing or faulty, preventing an embryo from implanting. Britain has 12,000 women with AUFI, while Sweden, the country in which the surgery was conducted, only 2,000 women had AUFI.
Clinical trials are also being conducted in Australia, India, and Singapore, apart from the U.K.