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$250,000 grant will study effects of cancer treatment on fertility

Institute’s Dr. Ilana Chefetz will lead study to help young women


As if cancer were not traumatic enough, there is another fear common to most young women undergoing treatment for cancer – the concern of chemotherapy affecting fertility. 

Dr. Ilana Chefetz

Dr. Ilana Chefetz, leader of Cancer Stem Cells and Necroptosis lab at The Hormel Institute, was awarded a 2020 Regenerative Medicine Minnesota Research Grant for her cancer research project, “Ovarian Mesenchymal Stem Cells.” The study will take an innovative approach to fighting the effects of cancer treatment on women’s fertility, using the body’s own healing abilities, an approach called regenerative medicine.

“Currently, about five percent of women diagnosed with cancer are of reproductive age and these young survivors may face fertility problems, due to chemotherapy-induced ovarian failure,” shares Dr. Chefetz. “Factors that are responsible for chemotherapy-induced ovarian damage are not well characterized. The understanding of these mechanisms may lead to targeted treatments to preserve fertility. We propose to use mesenchymal stem cells to improve ovarian function.”

Some chemotherapy treatments, and other cancer treatments, can cause temporary or permanent fertility loss for women. Research can help to find new and better options for women going through cancer treatment who are concerned about preserving their fertility.

Dr. Chefetz is one of only 14 grant recipients from Regenerative Medicine Minnesota for 2020. The $250,000 grant will be active for two years, providing $125,000 in research funding each year.

Regenerative Medicine Minnesota is a statewide initiative to support regenerative medicine research and therapies through scientific, clinical, educational, and commercial advances. Grants are given for research, clinical practice, biobusiness development and education. Regenerative Medicine Minnesota is overseen by the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic.