page contents
3D-Printed Ovaries in Mice Could One Day Help Infertile Women Become Pregnant

3D-Printed Ovaries in Mice Could One Day Help Infertile Women Become Pregnant

Cultura RM Exclusive/Sigrid Gombert Women who undergo chemotherapy and other harsh drug treatments suffer from a range of side effects, including diminished fertility. These drugs can damage a woman’s ovaries, making it difficult, or impossible, for her to conceive. But scientists have now engineered a new way of restoring fertility using three ingredients: gelatin, a 3D printer, and mice.

Three litters of healthy mouse pups have been birthed from bioprosthetic ovaries, scientists announced this week, renewing hope for fertility treatments in women who have undergone treatment for cancer. The ovaries, created with 3D printers, might one day be scaled up to function in women whose reproductive systems have been diminished due to chemotherapy or other harsh medical treatments.

“This research shows these bioprosthetic ovaries have long-term, durable function,” said Teresa K. Woodruff, a reproductive scientist and member of the research team, in a press statement. “Using bioengineering, instead of transplanting from a cadaver, to create organ structures that function and restore the health of that tissue for that person, is the holy grail of bioengineering for regenerative medicine.”

The study , published in Nature Communications , explained how scientists used gelatin to create the “scaffolding” of functional ovaries tiny enough to be implanted in live mice. The synthetic ovaries, which already contained follicles — small sacks that contain immature ovum, or eggs — allowed the mice to mate naturally, give birth, and secrete hormones for lactation just as they would with natural ovaries. The key, Laronda told Seeker, lies in two places: the gelatin used to make the ovaries, and the geometry of the scaffolding. Though it is safe to use in humans, gelatin is a tricky material to work with because it easily collapses. In previous trials, the printed gelatin became either too spread out or too clumpy. But this time, […]