A new era of regenerative medicine could be on the horizon. 3D printed ovaries allowed an infertile mouse to naturally mate and go on to give birth to two pups of its own.
Researchers at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and McCormick School of Engineering created bioprosthetic ovaries by 3D printing porous scaffolds from a gelatin ink and filling them with follicles. The follicle is a small structure within the ovary in which a mature egg is released. Each follicle contains a single egg surrounded by the cells that make the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Monica Laronda of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital and Northwestern University told ResearchGate that the 3D printing is engineered to scalability and that the overall design facilitated the release of a fertilisable egg.
Scientists found that the implants hooked up to the blood supply within a week in tests on mice that had one ovary surgically removed and went on to release eggs naturally through pores built into the gelatin structures.
Bioengineering for regenerative medicine could be useful in making artificial ovaries for young woman whose reproductive systems have been damaged by cancer treatment, leaving them infertile or with hormone imbalances.
Advances in 3D printing have already transformed areas in medicine and the researchers conceded that far more work was needed to assess the effects in women because human follicles are much larger and grow rapidly until they’re visible to the naked eye.
According to Teresa Woodruff at Northwestern University their “hope is that one day this ovarian bioprosthesis is really the ovary of the future.”
To watch and find out more about the 3D printed 0varies click here.