3D-printed ovaries let mice deliver healthy babies

3D-printed ovaries let mice deliver healthy babies

3D-printed ovaries let mice deliver healthy babies

"We hope to one day restore fertility and hormone function in women who are affected by disease or disease treatment", said Monica Laronda, assistant professor at Northwestern University and researcher at Lurie Children's Hospital.

"Right now, we're able to do that with young mice and the goal ultimately is to provide this to [human] patients".

According to Wired, Teresa Woodruff, a reproductive scientist at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and co-author of the study, said that they are planning on using ovarian tissues as ink. Human 3-D printed ovaries bring additional challenges as well, because human ovarian follicles are bigger and grow more rapidly, meaning that they could become too large for the restrictive gelatin pores they reside in.

The material is made of gelatin, a biological hydrogel created with collagen that is safe for use in humans. The team of scientists, from Northwestern University, published the results in Nature Communications today (May 16). The researchers punched out 2-millimeter circles through the scaffolds and implanted 40-50 follicles into each one, creating a "bioprosthetic" ovary. Some of the live mouse they implanted with the prosthetic organs, after seeding them with egg-containing follicles, had normal young.

3-D printing an ovary structure is like a tyke utilizing Lincoln Logs, said Alexandra Rutz, co-lead creator of the review and a previous biomedical building graduate individual in Shah's Tissue Engineering and Additive Manufacturing (TEAM) lab at the Simpson Querrey Institute. Not only were they able to ovulate, but they also managed to give birth to healthy pups that were nursed to full health.

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"The transplants weren't that easy because their small size and the small-sized native site of the [mice's] ovaries", said Laronda.

"We were also the first to develop a functional soft tissue transplant using 3D printing", she said. It provided a great scaffold for us that was able to expand its own weight, it has multiple layers, and normally when you print gelatin it collapses on itself, but she was able to do it in a way that was able to maintain those layers separately. "Utilizing bioengineering, rather than transplanting from a dead body, to make organ structures that capacity and reestablish the wellbeing of that tissue for that individual is the heavenly chalice of bioengineering for regenerative solution".

What happens with some of our cancer patients is that their ovaries don't function at a high enough level and they need to use hormone replacement therapies in order to trigger puberty.

The process is important because the team wants to not only help women get pregnant, they want to restore the entire endocrine system as well. "No one else has been able to print gelatin with such well-defined and self-supported geometry", said Shah.

Of course, it's all well and good for infertile mice, but when will the technology start to make a difference in human lives? The ovaries behaved like the natural ones, picking out an egg cell to mature and pass along, allowing the mice to bear healthy offspring. They then surgically removed the ovaries from seven mice and sutured the prosthetic ovaries in their place. "We are also going to investigate the 3D printed design and materials on human ovarian follicles in culture".

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