A feature article in The Scientist has revealed how, in just a decade, research using animals made possible the first human-to-human transplant of a uterus in patients that would otherwise not have been able to become pregnant
Early research in mice at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, that transferred a womb from one rodent to another, showed it was possible to achieve a successful pregnancy and this was followed research in larger animals such as pigs, sheep and baboons.
This lead to the first clinical trials at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, in 2013 and since then, over 50 successful human transplants have been achieved by teams in the US and Sweden, resulting in more than 30 births.
The next challenge is to develop uteruses made from the patient’s own cells to reduce the need for immunosuppressants, which leave the patient at risk of infection, and this is currently being trialled in rabbits. See also infographic.