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Marie-Madeleine Dolmans and Christiani A Amorim

Increasing numbers of patients are now surviving previously fatal malignant diseases, so for women of childbearing age, fertility concerns are paramount once they are cured. However, the treatments themselves, namely chemo- and radiotherapy, can cause considerable damage to endocrine and reproductive functions, often leaving these women unable to conceive. When such gonadotoxic therapy cannot be postponed due to the severity of the disease or for prepubertal girls, the only way to preserve fertility is cryobanking their ovarian tissue for future use. Unfortunately, with some types of cancer, there is a risk of reimplanting malignant cells together with the frozen-thawed tissue, so it is not recommended. A safer approach involves grafting isolated preantral follicles back to their native environment inside a specially created transplantable artificial ovary for their protection. This bioengineered ovary must mimic the natural organ and therefore requires an appropriate scaffold to encapsulate not only isolated follicles, but also autologous ovarian cells, which are needed for follicles to survive and develop. Here we review the indications for use of this artificial ovary and advances in the field that are bringing us ever closer to clinical implementation.