Scientists from Stanford University (USA) and the St. Marianna University School of Medicine in Kawasaki (Japan) have helped a woman suffering from early menopause to give birth to a baby by way of a technique known as “in vitro activation”.
Patients suffering from ovarian insufficiency, that is, those who do not menstruate and are suffering from early menopause, are unable to have children without resorting to egg donation (see HERE egg donation medical and ethical problems). Yet scientists have found a solution to this problem. Researchers from Japan have extracted portions of ovaries from infertile patients and subjected them to a double treatment. In the first step, the ovarian tissue was fragmented and a drug was applied to stimulate follicle growth. The extracted tissue was then implanted in the patient’s ovary. This method has resulted in pregnancy for two women. According to the article, which was published in NATURE AND PNAS (doi:10.1073/pnas.1312830110; 30 September 2013), one of these patients gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
This treatment could be used by middle-aged women suffering from infertility, cancer patients who have undergone sterilisation procedures, and other cases of diminished ovarian reserve, helping them have children.
See also latest study, In Vitro Activation: A Possible New Frontier for Treatment of Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (April 23 2016)
As far as the ethics of the procedure is concerned, we believe that the technique itself does not pose any ethical dilemmas, yet we should bear in mind which procedure is used as part of the in-vitro fertilisation when evaluating the ethics of this procedure.