Isabelle DEMEESTERE, MD, PhD
In the field of improving quality of life of cancer survivors, oncofertility has emerged in order to provide options of fertility preservation to cancer patients who face gonadotoxic effects of anticancer treatments and infertility.
The laboratory works on different approaches to improve fertility preservation techniques that should benefit children and young women who are diagnosed with cancer, including clinical trials and fundamental research projects:
While this technique is very attractive, it has limitations, such as a theoretical risk of reintroducing malignant cancer cells within the graft. We developed different projects aiming to detect the presence of micrometastasis in ovarian tissue using molecular tools and xenograft model into SCID mice.
Development of fertility preservation option requires extensive knowledge in the mechanism of drugs gonadotoxicity. Pharmacological ovarian protection during chemotherapy has several advantages to preserve fertility of cancer patients as it is non-invasive and allows spontaneous cycle recovery after treatment. The laboratory investigates the potential protective effects of Gonadotropin-releasing Hormone analogues (GnRHa) both in humans and in animal models. As master regulators of genes transcription, microRNAs are studied in follicular response to toxic agents to keep follicle at the quiescent stage during chemotherapy.
In the laboratory, follicular culture system has been largely studied in mice model and we have now developed research program investigating different aspect of human follicular activation in vitro in order to support follicle growth from primordial follicles to maturity. Recently, research projects focus on the role of PI3K/Akt/mTOR and Hyppo pathway in the activation of human follicles in vitro.
Ongoing study in human and mice evaluates the safety and the efficiency of adapted ovarian stimulation protocol using letrozole for breast cancer patients in order to collect and vitrify oocytes by avoiding harmful effect of hormones on tumoral progression during treatment.