Paving a New Path to Parenthood: Penn Medicine Launches First Clinical Trial for Uterine Transplant in the Northeast

Abbey Anderson | abbey.anderson@uphs.upenn.edu | 215-349-8369
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Uterine Transplant

Penn Medicine will conduct the Northeast’s first clinical trial of uterine transplants, to provide women with Uterine Factor Infertility (UFI) - an irreversible form of female infertility that affects as many as 5 percent of women worldwide and 50,000 women in the United States - with a new path to parenthood. A woman with UFI cannot carry a pregnancy either because she was born without a uterus, has had the organ surgically removed, or has a uterus that does not function properly. The Uterine Transplantation for Uterine Factor Infertility (UNTIL) trial is the third of its kind in the United States.

To date, more than 30 uterine transplants have been completed across the world including in Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden, India, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and at two clinics in the United States. Though the procedure is still experimental, a team in Sweden who completed the world’s first uterine transplant has successfully delivered eight babies from women who received a uterus from a friend or family member.

“While there are still many unknowns about uterine transplantation, we know this approach has the potential to give women with UFI a real opportunity to carry and deliver a child,” said Kate O’Neill, MD, MTR, an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and co-principal investigator on the UNTIL trial. “The strength of Penn’s research program and exceptional quality of care, particularly in transplant and women’s health, makes us uniquely positioned to be a leading clinical research program for uterine transplants in the United States, and to continue to advance this emerging field.”

Uterine transplantation is a complex procedure that involves both surgical and medical components. Following an extensive evaluation, participants in the UNTIL trial will be followed for several years by a multidisciplinary team of specialists with expertise in transplant, obstetrics & gynecology, clinical trials, bioethics, nursing, social work, psychology, pathology, and infectious diseases. More than 35 providers will be involved in each participant’s care over the course of a five- to 10-year period.

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