Womb Transplants Succeed in Mice

Swedish research may hold future hope for infertile women

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WEDNESDAY, July 2, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Swedish scientists have successfully transplanted wombs from one set of mice to another and produced normal healthy babies.

This is the first time that scientists have achieved live births from transplanted wombs in any species. It shows that transplanted wombs can produce successful pregnancies and offers hope that successful womb transplants may be possible in women in the future.

The researchers presented their findings July 1 at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Madrid, Spain.

In each recipient mouse, a transplanted uterus from a genetically identical mouse was placed alongside the normal uterus, which acted as a control. The grafted uteri produced mouse pups that were fertile and had normal body weight and normal behavior.

The study also says healthy pups were produced from five of seven uterine grafts that had been preserved in cooling solution for 24 hours before transplantation.

While there were reports in the 1960s and 1970s of live births from replanted uteri, those cases involved uteri taken out and replaced in the same animal, so they were not true transplants. These are the first true transplants in the world to produce live births, the Swedish researchers say in a news release.

More research with laboratory animals into controlling rejection and the possible effects of immunosuppression on pregnancies is necessary before the scientists can move on to human research.

The researchers estimate that womb transplants could help about 3 percent to 4 percent of infertile women. That includes women born without a uterus and those with congenital malformations. It may also benefit women who have lost their uterus because of emergency surgery due to postpartum hemorrhage and women who have had early stage cervical cancer.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about infertility.

SOURCE: European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, news release, July 1, 2003

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