Gleevec May Help Preserve Fertility After Chemotherapy

Women who undergo chemotherapy often lose their fertility because the drugs used damage or kill their oocytes—immature egg cells stored in the ovaries. However, a recent study suggests that adding the cancer drug imatinib mesylate (Gleevec) to chemotherapy treatment may protect oocytes. Researchers treated mouse ovaries with the chemotherapy drug cisplatin (Platinol) either by itself or in combination with Gleevec, then implanted them into host mice. The oocytes from Gleevec-treated ovaries still suffered DNA damage from the Platinol exposure, but unlike oocytes treated with just Platinol, they did not die. Previous research suggests that the surviving oocytes could repair the damage over time after chemotherapy treatment ends. These findings offer the hope that Gleevec may help preserve fertility in chemotherapy patients.