Approximately 1% of women of childbearing age "suffer from primary ovarian insufficiency", and "experience the menopause before the age of 40". Their ovaries produce few oocytes, if any, which "leaves women with only a 5 to 10% chance of having a baby".
Professor Kazuhiro Kawamura’s team at the St Mariana School of Medicine in Kawasaki, Japan, has carried out experiments on a cohort of 27 volunteers under 40 years of age, assuming that "the ovaries of these patients still contain follicles that may be reactive" and can therefore release an oocyte every month. To trigger oocyte production, scientists have "taken one of their ovaries and sectioned it – a technique known to promote follicle maturation". The ovarian tissues are "then cut into small cubes and exposed to stimulating medicinal treatment". Finally, the scientists carried out an autograft whereby the cubes were redeposited in the patients’ fallopian tubes. For five patients, follicle growth was accelerated and healthy oocytes were obtained. The "gametes were then collected and fertilised with spermatozoa from the young women’s partners, just as in conventional in-vitro fertilisation, and the embryos obtained were reimplanted in the patients’ uterus". According to the results, one woman gave birth to a baby boy, another one had a miscarriage and two other women have not yet attempted pregnancy.
The potential success rate with this method is evaluated at 30% and researchers are considering using this method in other patients, especially women aged 40 to 45.