World Bulletin/News Desk
Egg cells can repair themselves from damage caused by radiation far better than doctors ever thought, a finding researchers say gives fresh hope in protecting women undergoing cancer therapy from infertility.
Although the experiments have only been in mice, researchers believe they have relevance for female cancer patients and women who suffer premature menopause, a condition that puts them at risk of early infertility, osteoporosis and heart disease.
In a paper to be published in the November 9 issue of the journal Molecular Cell, scientists in Australia found that egg cells, or oocytes, are killed not by radiation, but by two proteins -- puma and noxa -- which snap into action when they detect DNA damage to egg cells.
In experiments using mice that did not carry these proteins, the scientists found that their eggs survived radiation and they went on to produce normal offspring.
"This is very exciting. It means if you get rid of those proteins that kill, the oocytes or specialised egg cells can actually repair their DNA and that has never been known before," said lead author Clare Scott, an associate professor and oncologist at The Royal Melbourne and Royal Women's Hospitals.
Between 50 to 80 percent of eggs survived in these mice.
"These were enough to result in normal fertility in those mice and they could produce normal pups. Those pups went on to be fertile themselves and lived a normal lifespan with no evidence of tumours or other abnormalities," she said by telephone.
Scott's colleagues are conducting similar trials on human egg cells to see if the two proteins work in the same way. If all goes well, they hope a drug can be designed to block the two proteins from killing egg cells.
"If that pans out well, then we would hope that a drug that could target (the protein) puma ... be provided as a therapy for three to six months during cancer therapy," Scott said.
Such a drug that blocks the action of the proteins could possibly prevent premature menopause or infertility, she added.
"In a woman, premature menopause is caused by (early) death of specialised egg cells. And if you can get specialised egg cells to survive, then premature menopause won't occur."
A trilateral pledge will see a jump from the current collective clean power levels of about 37% to 50% by 2025
Around 6.5 million deaths globally are attributed each year to poor air quality inside and outside, making it the world's fourth-largest threat to human health, behind high blood pressure, dietary risks and smoking
New World Drug Report research identifies heroin as deadliest drug
Zika has caused alarm throughout the Americas since cases of the birth defect microcephaly were reported in Brazil, the country hardest hit by the outbreak
Philadelphia has become the first big city in the US to place a tax on soda to tackle the obesity crisis
Average global temperatures startlingly higher than normal between March-May
Government study provides strongest evidence of cell phone health effects
The reason for the high-level threat in the area is the presence there of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which carry the Zika virus that health authorities say causes birth defects in newborns
Three-day African Utility Week conference begins in South African city of Cape Town
More than two thousand activists came together to close an opencast coal mine in Germany.
New federal rules unveiled on Thursday will tackle the release of the greenhouse gas methane from oil wells and equipment as part of an effort to fight climate change.
At least five reef islands in the remote Solomon Islands have been lost completely to sea level rise and coastal erosion
Heads of UN, Work Bank lay out vision to deal with climate change
Turkish environment minister signs historic agreement in New York against taking action against climate change
Human defense mechanisms could be disrupted by the presence of a class of organic pollutants in fish and other food, according to new research.