Gothenburg Team prepares for uterine transplantation
The research study where doctors and researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy and Sahlgrenska University Hospital are planning to conduct uterus transplants between mother and daughter is approaching implementation. The Regional Research Ethics Committee has given its approval and in the autumn, ten patients have been selected. The goal is that the first transplantation will be carried out before the new year.
Professor Mats Brännström, researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy, the University of Gothenburg and senior doctor at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, has led a research project since 1999 that will enable women who have no womb from birth, or who had their uterus removed at a young age due to cervical cancer, to receive a new womb through transplantation. In Sweden alone, there are an estimated 2,000 young women of childbearing age who can not have children due to that they lack a uterus.
Approved by the Ethics Committee
The project has been evaluated by the Regional Research Ethics Committee (REC) in Gothenburg, which has approved it. Thus, researchers can proceed with the goal of performing the first operations before the end of 2012. The study will be closely followed by a monitoring committee, in accordance with the terms of the ethical review.
“In recent decades there has been significant progress in research concerning assisted reproduction. Today, most types of infertility are treated with in vitro fertilization, hormonal stimulation, or sperm injection, and in Sweden, several thousand children are born annually with the assistance of these techniques,” comments Professor Mats Brännström.
“The lack of a uterus is one of the last types of infertility that we are unable to treat. Uterine transplantation has the potential to address this major clinical problem.”
The objective is that a normal pregnancy will develop in the uterus after an embryo transfer, which according to international recommendations will not be made until at least 12 months after the transplantation.
The research project is funded by grants from private research foundations. The actual operations will be performed at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, which is providing its facilities for the research study, and will be conducted on weekends so as not to divert resources from the normal provision of health and medical care.
The Uterine Transplantation Project was recently described in the paper Uterus transplantation: animal research and human possibilities, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility on April 28, 2012.
Research into uterine transplantations has since 1999 evaluated step by step the factors that may be affected in transplantation, and subsequent pregnancy in a transplanted uterus. The method has been scientifically evaluated by testing on mice, rats, sheep, pigs and primates. The project, which has hitherto been written about in nearly 40 scientific papers and four doctorial dissertations, has involved collaborations with a number of international research groups. The most important of the contacts is with the University of Miami, in the United States, where the team developed the surgical technique together with Professor Andreas Tzakis, one of the world’s leading transplant surgeons.