Scientists Just 3D Printed Ovaries (And They Worked)

A scientist holds a bioprosthetic mouse ovary made of gelatin with tweezers. Supplied

The mice's ovaries were replaced with bioprosthetic ones constructed from a 3D-printed scaffold, boosting their hormone production allowing them to ovulate, give birth, and even nurse their pups.

Here's how it works: Scientists removed mouse ovaries in order to sterilize them, then preserved the ovarian tissue and isolated its hormone-producing cells that support immature eggs.

Woodruff, a reproductive scientist at the Northwestern University in the USA said, "This research shows these bioprosthetic ovaries have long-term, durable function". "No one else has been able to print gelatin with such well-defined and self-supported geometry", said Shah.

What's next? According to the researchers, in the future, these bioprosthetic ovaries might help restore fertility to women who've lost their ovarian function due to diseases such as cancer, or cancer treatment.

Researchers said it also allowed blood vessel to develop inside the implant so that released hormones could enter the bloodstream and trigger lactation in the mice. "We're preparing to stun the world picture, which means each phase of the young lady's life, so adolescence through adulthood to a characteristic menopause". The mouse follicles were then introduced, and after the team found both the follicles and eggs would survive for more than a week, they chose to implant them.

3D printing technology has brought to us many wonders.

The motivation for this research centred on providing hormone functionality and fertility solutions for cancer sufferers, who have been left sterile after their treatment.

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Laronda said, "The goal of this scaffold is to recapitulate how an ovary would function".

"Outside of reproductive biology, our findings will likely impact others developing tissue units ... and underscore the importance of independently investigating the impact of architectural variables when designing scaffolds for other soft tissue and organ targets".

The paper's authors used a 3-D printer to lay down layers of gelatin, which is derived from collagen, on glass slides until they formed 15 mm x 15 mm scaffolds of varying density. The ovaries behaved like the natural ones, picking out an egg cell to mature and pass along, allowing the mice to bear healthy offspring. Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago successfully implanted 3D-printed ovaries in mice, and those mouse moms delivered healthy babies.

"This research shows these bioprosthetic ovaries have long-term, durable function", she said.

What sets this research apart from other labs is the architecture of the scaffold and the material, or "ink", the scientists are using, said Ramille Shah, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at McCormick and of surgery at Feinberg.

Loranda and her colleagues initially tried to test the theory by using portions of cow ovaries, stripped down to their base components, something called a "decellularized matrix" that they seeded with mouse ovarian cells. In female children, cancer treatment that damages the ovaries can often delay, or prevent, the onset of puberty. Earlier this year, her lab use tissue cultures to create a miniature 3D model of the female reproductive tract, a "period in a dish".

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