Stem Cell Therapy | Dr. Hakan Özörnek

Stem Cell Therapy

Recent studies have demonstrated the potential development of mature sperm cells from stem sperm cells in the laboratory environment for men with azoospermia. In the past, it was known that the development of mature sperm cells in the testes could only be carried out by stem cells called spermatogonia. However, recent scientific research has shown that stem cells could always exist in the testis and could be transformed into mature sperm cells through hormone therapy. Dr. Philippe Durand and his team from the Lyon National Research Institute in France isolated sperm stem cells from biopsy samples taken from the testes of a group of azoospermic men. Through a bioreactor, they succeeded in transforming these cells into fully developed sperm. However, the obtained sperm was not used in IVF treatment. Experimental studies are still in the early stages and have not matured to become a part of IVF treatment or received clinical approval.

Despite leveraging evolving information technologies to develop a treatment program, we do not offer any treatment method or technology to our patients that has not been clinically approved.

There are three patient groups for whom IVF treatment cannot assist:

1. Male patients in whom it has been definitively established that there is no sperm after all diagnostic and treatment options.

Azoospermia is defined as the absence of live or dead sperm cells in semen analyses. Based on evaluations, a Urology doctor may recommend micro-TESE, allowing the collection and freezing of sperm obtained from the patient for IVF treatment. For patients where no sperm cell can be obtained in any way, the option outside of sperm donation, which is prohibited in Turkey, is the promising future application of 'stem cell' treatment.

2. Menopausal women who have definitively entered menopause without any eggs.

The egg reserve of women is determined from the moment they are born and cannot be changed. In other words, the woman's age corresponds to the age of her eggs. If a woman's age has advanced, her eggs also age with her, reducing the likelihood of having children. While 8-10 eggs can be collected from prospective mothers in their 20s and 30s, this number drops to 1-2 in mothers in their 40s. This poses a significant risk to becoming a parent. In recent years, attempts have been made to enrich a piece taken from the ovaries of women who have run out of egg production in the laboratory to restore egg production. However, this method has not been clinically proven to achieve success. Since proven clinical results have not been obtained, this method is not applied by us, considering patient safety, health, and satisfaction.

3. Women without a uterus.

For women who want to be mothers but do not have a uterus, a surrogate mother is a solution. However, this method is not legally implemented in Turkey.

Studies continue to explore the possibility of obtaining eggs or sperm from any part of the body in these three patient groups where IVF treatment cannot be applied. When success is achieved and clinically approved, IVF treatment can be performed.

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