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Geraldine Delbès

Effects of chemotherapies used to treat paediatric cancers on male fertility


Geraldine Delbès, PhD

Geraldine DelbesGeraldine Delbes completed her PhD with Drs. René Habert and Christine Levacher at University Paris-Sud (France) studying the impact of estrogens on testicular development during perinatal life. She pursued studying reproductive toxicology during her post-doctoral fellowship in Dr. Bernard Robaire’s lab at McGill University where she used animal models to study the impact of chemotherapeutic treatments on male fertility. After 5 years as a post-doctorate, she became a research associate in the department of urology (McGill University health center). Working with Dr. Peter Chan, she investigated new methods to improve sperm quality to help cancer survivors with altered fertility. In September 2012, she established her own independent lab investigating the interface among toxicants, genes, the epigenome and reproductive outcome. Her lab focuses on the impact of environmental compounds and chemotherapeutic drugs on the immature gem cells and the long term consequences on male adult fertility.

Cancer treatment targets DNA in proliferative cells. Chemotherapy in adults induces a decrease in sperm production and increase the production of abnormal spermatozoa with altered motility, morphology, and chromatin quality. Such deleterious impact can be reversible years after treatment but to date, no marker to predict recovery is available. The only way to preserve fertility for these patients is therefore sperm banking prior to treatment, but what is available to preserve fertility for children diagnose with cancer when they are unable to produce sperm? Geraldine Delbes’ research aims to find biomarkers of male infertility and to evaluate the impact of chemotherapeutic chemicals on the immature testis.

The general objectives of her research program are to prevent male infertility and to mitigate adverse reproductive outcomes in male survivors of childhood cancer. Specifically, she studies the toxicity of the chemotherapeutic agents used to treat leukemia, the most prevalent cancer in children. Using in vitro system, she studies
The impacts on spermatogonial stem cells function, proliferation, differentiation and DNA repair ability. Moreover, her lab, in collaboration with Peter Chan, investigates the late effects of childhood cancers and their therapies on markers of male reproductive health especially sperm chromatin structure and DNA breaks in a cohort of adult survivors