Edinburgh Fertility Preservation programme
The programme of work in males, combined with Edinburgh’s well-established programme for females, has resulted in the establishment of the ‘Edinburgh Fertility Preservation’ (EFP) programme. This unique collaboration of scientists and clinicians combines laboratory and clinical research aimed at optimising fertility for children and young adults with cancer.
A key component of fertility preservation is cryopreserving or ‘freezing’ tissue and the Edinburgh Centre is the first – and currently the only – centre in the UK to be undertaking active research using cryopreserved ovarian and testis tissue. Their research focuses on the germ cells in these tissues and their development into sperm and eggs.
Dr Rod Mitchell is a Clinician Scientist and Paediatric Endocrinologist at the University of Edinburgh and one of the co-founders of the EFP programme. He says: “Currently there are no options to preserve fertility in young boys undergoing potentially sterilising treatment. Children with Cancer UK has given my team the opportunity to work towards a solution to this important clinical problem.”
The EFP programme was officially launched in June as part of a full-day event at the University of Edinburgh. Neil Meemaduma, Research Manager at Children with Cancer UK, took part in the event, giving a talk that highlighted the importance of this research to survivors of childhood cancer.
Rod Mitchell spoke of the team’s excitement over the recent birth following re-implantation of ovarian tissue and the hope that this holds for other young survivors. He presented a wonderful animation (at the top of this page) created by him and his talented colleague Madalena Paiva Chaves, explaining their work.