3D-printed ovaries enabling infertile mice to give birth

A team of researchers who are working on a perfect 3D–printed ovaries for infertile women have successfully tested their creation in mice. The mice, whose ovaries were surgically replaced with 3D–printed variety, was successfully pregnant and gave birth to healthy pups. The lab–created ovaries activated even lactation.

3D–printed organs made. However, this new ovaries made by a team from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and McCormick School of Engineering– are the first to be made with a 3D–printed gelatin scaffolds.

The perfecting of this scaffolding has proven diffult– the structure had to be durable enough to hold together by the implantation procedure and the execution of the eggs, but also porous enough to function.

Numerous previous attempts saw the scaffolding falling apart.


“The most difficult part of the experiment was to ensure that the 3D-printed scaffold of the spherical architecture of the ovarian follicles,” study co–author Dr. Monica Laronda told Fox News. “It is essential that the atmosphere is maintained during the differentiation of a follicle, of the transfer of an immature oocyte to ovulate a mature egg.”

With the help of a 3D-printer packaging of a gelatin–fire nozzle, the gelatin 3D–printed in 15mm x 15mm strips overlap each other in different ways to produce the scaffolding. The ovarian follicles (the fluid-filled sacs that are the immature egg cell) were then introduced. Once the team determined that the follicles can survive for more than a week, they implanted the bioprosthetic ovaries in seven mice. The mice of the blood vessels were able to successfully integrate with the porous gelatin, which kept the ovaries functioning.

Three of the seven mice were able to become pregnant and give birth after mating. They were even able to nurse their pups due to the hormones produced by the new ovaries.

The team also have difficulties to make an attempt to use the mouse to remove the ovaries and replace them with the bioprosthetic that is in the same location without disrupting any of the female reproductive organs.

Precision surgery on small mice is difficult– but Laronda the team will have a larger space to work with during the next test if they plan on implanting larger animals (such as pigs) with the ovaries.

The ultimate goal is the creation of bioprosthetic ovaries that can be used by women barren of diseases such as cancer, their medical treatments, but the human studies are likely to take years.

“I think that we will see reasonable progress in the next 5 years,” study co–author Dr. Teresa Woodruff told Fox News.

“We must ensure that the human follicles will respond to this 3D printed material and design with the same success,” Laronda added. “One good thing about 3D printing is that we can adjust what should be adjusted to the man and the scale of the bioprosthetic ovary to the human dimension.”


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