Implanting artificial ovaries may be a safer, natural and effective alternative in menopausal women who face hot flashes, sleep problems, weight gain, and bone deterioration due to the loss of ovarian function, a mice study has suggested.
Women experiencing menopause lose their ability to produce hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone and as a result face these symptoms.
While hormone replacement medications help in the production of these important hormones, they are not recommended for long-term use due to the increased risk of heart disease and breast cancer.
The findings showed that transplanting lab-engineered ovaries may be a better alternative for menopausal women than the regular intake of synthetic hormones.
"The treatment is designed to secrete hormones in a natural way based on the body's needs, rather than the patient taking a specific dose of drugs each day," said Emmanuel C. Opara, Professor at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina, US.
"Safe hormone replacement will likely become increasingly important as the population of ageing women grows," Opara said.
To engineer the bioartificial ovary, as reported in the journal Nature Communications, the team isolated the two types of cells theca and granulosa --found in ovaries -- from rats.
A thin membrane was used as a capsule to contain the cells and then implanted in rats that had their ovaries removed.
The new treatment could naturally produce hormones oestrogen and progesterone and had better bone and uterine health as well as were prevented from menopausal symptoms such as bone deterioration, weight gain and sleep problems.
"This study highlights the potential utility of cell-based hormone therapy for the treatment of conditions associated with the loss of ovarian function," Opara said.