Reporter 440, 11 October 1999

Ovary team aiming for better pill

The University team whose work leading to the first 'frozen' ovarian transplant sent shockwaves through the scientific community last month has started a new project aimed at developing more reliable female contraceptives.

Professor Roger Gosden made newspaper front pages around the world on September 24 after it was reported that an American woman Margaret Lloyd-Hart had an ovary replaced after it had been frozen using a technique he pioneered.

The breakthrough gives hope to thousands of cancer patients whose ovaries have been removed and frozen. Although these women were effectively sterilised by cancer treatment, they may now be able to have their own children.

Professor Gosden has now left Leeds for Canada, but is retaining strong links with the University. He will spend six weeks here each year as a Visiting Professor and remains in day-to-day contact with his University colleagues to advise students and researchers, plan new courses and launch projects.

The new programme of research involves searching for the genes involved in the earliest stages of egg and follicle growth in the human ovary. Preventing follicle growth at an earlier stage would be more reliable than current oral contraceptives, which terminate follicle development shortly before an egg is produced, said Professor Gosden. Women who missed a pill for a day or two would be at no risk of getting pregnant.

The work is at a very early stage, he added. It takes up to twenty years for new contraceptives to reach the market. See 'In the News' on page five for more, or click here to view the press release.

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