Rich Vaughn-IFLG: Sperm Stem Cells Promise Future Fertrility to Youngest Cancer Survivors

Sperm Stem Cell Research Offers Youngest Cancer Patients Future Fertility

Promising new research, published in the October 2018 issue of the journal Nature Communications, “could help today’s cancer survivors become tomorrow’s fathers,” as Today’s Kate Snow reported earlier this week.

Cryopreservation, or freezing, of sperm or eggs has helped thousands of cancer patients preserve the ability to become genetic parents in the future, even when they must undergo chemo therapy or radiation treatments that often result in infertility. But for patients below the age of puberty, who have not yet begun producing eggs or sperm, there has been no option for fertility preservation.

Researchers injected sperm-producing stem cells, called spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs), into mice that had been treated with the chemotherapy drug busulfan, which causes infertility, according to a report from the National Institutes of Health. The injected mice regained their fertility, with the proven ability to father pups.

Studies have shown that prepubescent male cancer patients can preserve SSCs by cryopreserving a small sample of testicular material, prior to invasive treatment. The problem is, the testicular material of prepubescent males contains only a small amount of SSCs—not nearly enough to restore human male fertility. For years, researchers have searched for a method to cultivate and expand the scant number of SSCs in the laboratory. In a recent breakthrough, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have succeeded in doing so. The next step will be to determine whether the laboratory-grown sperm stem cells can be reimplanted into male cancer patients once they are cancer-free in order to restore fertility.

Girls are not forgotten. Although boys are three times more likely than girls to be rendered infertile from cancer treatment, Forbes reports, similar studies on using cryopreserved ovarian tissue to preserve fertility in young girls facing cancer treatment are underway, said Today correspondent Kate Snow.

Snow interviewed a young man, Sam, who was diagnosed with and treated for prostate cancer at age 2. As Sam’s mom told Snow, when Dr. Jill Ginsberg, a pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP), invited Sam to be part of a clinical study, she didn’t think preserving her toddler son’s future fertility—in the face of a life-threatening cancer diagnosis—was that big a deal. What did impress her was the fact that Dr. Ginsberg was talking about her son’s future—with the implication he would have a future, after cancer. Now 12, Sam, in response to Snow’s question whether he would like to be a father someday, softly replied yes.

As the father of twin boys who may want to become dads someday, and as someone who cherishes the privilege of fatherhood, this story hit home for me. According to Forbes, “one in 530 young adults in the U.S. is a survivor of childhood cancer,” and many are left infertile as a casualty of lifesaving treatments. Thanks to this ongoing work many of those survivors will grow up with the promise that they, too, can become biologically related parents someday.


Rich Vaughn
Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.


Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

Los Angeles

5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 645

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone:  +1 323 331 9343



New York

501 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900

New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016



Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.