A team of researchers was succesful in creating 3D printed ovaries that were then placed inside mice. The scientists to conduct this study are part of the Northwestern University Schools of Engineering and Medicine. They wanted to see if the use of 3D printed ovaries could help mice get pregnant and give birth to offsprings. According to the reported results, they were succesful in their mission as the resulting babies are healthy, living, breathing specimens.
3D Printed Ovaries, A Step Forward Towards Treating Infertility?
The team of researchers left the mice ovarian follicles intact. Instead, they combined them with 3D technology and achieved a sort of scaffold. They were amazed to note that this bioprosthetic ovary was able to help the mice have babies.
Study results were published in the journal Nature Communications. As the team pointed out, the succes of their research was ensured by the use of the biological material. Still, they also pointed out several very important facts. One of them is that the body must first recognize and accept the ovarian tissue used to create the 3D printed ovaries.
Also, this can’t be too soft because otherwise, it could disintegrate during surgery. Previous studies used 3D printed ovaries made out of water-based materials, which made them unstable. This new research used collagen-based organic material, whcih ensured its resistence.
To make this implant even more durable, the team printed it in multiple layers. This type of 3D printed ovaries cannot yet be used for women, unfortunately, because of their current shape. The researchers mentioned that the ovarian follicles in women are bigger and they grow more quickly. This means that the shape of these ovaries needs to change.
Nonetheless, this research is a significant first step towards finding a way of helping women with fertility issues have children. The team mentioned that they need to find a suitable material for the 3D printed ovaries. With this, they should be able to give another chance to infertile couples.
This type of bioprosthetic ovary could help women who have lost their ovaries due to cancer. Or those who have remained infertile due to chemotherapy or that have low ovarian resources.
“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,” explained Monica Laronda, a researcher part of the study.
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