Preservation of female fertility in humans and animal species
A detailed understanding of the cryobiology of gametes and complex tissues has led to the development of methods that facilitate the successful low temperature banking of isolated mature human oocytes, or immature oocytes in situ within fragments of human ovarian cortex. Although many outstanding research challenges remain to be addressed, the successful development of new treatments to preserve female fertility for a range of clinical indications has largely been underpinned by the conduct of extensive, fundamental research on oocytes and ovarian tissues from a number of laboratory and commercially important farm species. Indeed, the most recent evidence from large animals suggests that it is also possible to cryopreserve intact whole ovaries along with their supporting vasculature for later autotransplantation and restoration of natural fertility. This review will explore how the methods developed to preserve human oocytes and ovarian tissues can now be used strategically to support the development of conservation strategies aimed at safeguarding the genetic diversity of commercially important domestic animals and also of preserving the female germplasm for wild animals and endangered species.
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