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06 Sep 2019

UNSW Sydney and The Royal Hospital for Women have collaborated to form the first of its kind fertility and research centre in Australia.

The state-of-the-art facility, known as the Fertility & Research Centre (FRC), will offer women across NSW publicly funded, low-cost IVF treatment and on-site fertility preservation services for young people with cancer and rare genetic diseases.

The centered was opened in August by NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

“This centre will provide first-class fertility preservation services, giving people with a cancer diagnosis or rare genetic conditions the chance to make their future plans for children a reality,” Mr Hazzard said.

Led by UNSW’s Professor William Ledger, the FRC will hold an assisted reproduction laboratory and procedure room where a full range of clinical services, including complete reproductive investigations and comprehensive IVF services, will be available to patients in a public hospital setting.

Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at UNSW and Director of Reproductive Medicine at the Royal Hospital for Women, Professor Ledger, said the service will be linked with the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital.

“Cancer patients diagnosed at Sydney Children’s or Prince of Wales Hospital can now speak with doctors about fertility preservation the very same day they are told they need chemotherapy,” Professor Ledger said.

The FRC will be a teaching centre at the cutting edge of fertility research bringing together top fertility experts to examine the possibilities of hormone-free IVF and new ways of slowing down the possible decline in egg quality as women age.

Researchers at the FRC are working with UNSW’s Dr Lindsay Wu to find new ways of slowing down the ageing of eggs and find ways to translate those findings into practice.

The team will also work with Professor Robert Gilchrist, a specialist in oocyte and reproductive biology from UNSW’s School of Women’s and Children’s Health, to introduce hormone injection-free IVF treatment; and with Dr Kirsty Walters, a senior lecturer in Women’s and Children’s Health, on the impact of polycystic ovary syndrome on infertility.

Professor Ledger said oncofertility services will be available to patients diagnosed with cancer to preserve fertility before undergoing chemotherapy.

“Many young people will encounter cancer in their lives. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy will treat their cancer but will destroy their store of eggs. The answer is to take quick and pre-emptive action by freezing eggs and embryos,” Professor Ledger said.

“We will also offer genetic screening of embryos, helping to eliminate devastating genetic disorders from future generations as well as counselling and psychological support.”

Researchers will examine high powered genetic approaches, which will be used to improve pregnancy rates and pre-implantation diagnosis for couples at risk of hundreds of genetic diseases.

New approaches will be examined into preserving eggs, ovarian tissue, gametes and embryos for younger people with cancer, and reducing the risk of implantation failure and miscarriage in women in their 30s and 40s.


Published: 06 Sep 2019