In a finding that could prevent infertility among women who undergo treatment for cancer, researchers have identified new egg-producing cells that can survive the radiation caused due to cancer treatment.
The findings by researchers from Melbourne could pave the way for a course of injections or tablets able to protect women's fertility within a decade.
"This is a fundamental change in the way we can now think about infertility and menopause," the Age quoted Clare Scott, who heads the ovarian research laboratory at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Parkville, as saying.
Working with colleagues from Monash University and Prince Henry's Institute in Clayton, Professor Scott was among a team of eight researchers who identified two key proteins which when blocked can help recover fertility following chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
The proteins, known as PUMA and NOXA, trigger death in damaged cells in the ovaries.
Researchers established a way to prevent the proteins reaching the damaged cells, thereby keeping the cells alive.
They were also able to show for the first time that the cells were able to repair the damage caused to their DNA by cancer treatment - and go on to produce healthy offspring.
The study has been published in the journal Molecular Cell.