3D printed ovary implants produce healthy offspring

3D printed ovary implants produce healthy offspring

3D printed ovary implants produce healthy offspring

A female mouse's ovaries were removed and replaced with 3D printed bioprosthetic ones using gelatin as the "ink" and using eggs from different mice - enabling it to ovulate, conceive pups and give birth, the United States researchers said.

"The real breakthrough here is we're building a real ovarian prosthesis and the goal of this project is to be able to restore fertility to young cancer patients who have been sterilised by their cancer treatment", said Dr Teresa Woodruff, a reproductive scientist director of the Women's Health Research Institute, at Northwestern University, in IL.

"We're learning more about the fundamental biology of the ovary through these 3-D printed structures and this new knowledge is aiding in the next generation of options that we're working toward for young cancer patients", said co-senior author Teresa Woodruff, of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

"The resulting pups from the bioprosthetic ovary developed normally with their own reproductive competency, as they were all able to sire or deliver healthy litters". "No one else has been able to print gelatin with such well-defined and self-supported geometry", said Shah. It had to be strong enough to handle surgical implantation while porous enough to hold on to egg cells and allow veins to grow. "We're thinking big picture, meaning every stage of the girl's life, so puberty through adulthood to a natural menopause", Laronda said. Likewise, the 3-D printed "platform" or "skeleton" is embedded into a female and its pores can be utilized to enhance how follicles, or youthful eggs, get wedged inside the framework.

3D printing has been used in the past to produce a range of human organs. "[Gelatin] is relatively cheap, has already been approved by our FDA for several uses in the in clinic, and because it is derived from collagen, one of the most abundant structural proteins of the ovary", says coauthor Monica Laronda.

Tissues, organs and even bones have been 3D printed in the past. Researchers are hoping for a full functional ovary replacement within five years, but at this point, it may be unlikely. And while doctors have had some success in restoring women's fertility from frozen ovarian tissue, an implant could potentially help those who do not bank healthy tissue when they are children.

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These "printed" ovaries included ovarian follicles (an aggregate of sac-like cells in which the oocyte develops) in which immature oocytes were found, explains the American site.

While it's hard to say how quickly these technologies can be translated for human use, Shah said they are hoping that within five years a human implant will be made, though it is not likely to be a full functioning ovary replacement right off the bat. For one, 3D printers consume between 50 - 100 times more electrical energy than injection molding to make an item of the same weight, according to MIT research.

The scientists' primary objective for creating bioprosthetic ovaries was the restoration of hormone and fertility in women who have endured cancer treatments and now face a heightened risk of infertility.

Loranda and her colleagues initially tried to test the theory by using portions of cow ovaries, stripped down to their base components, something called a "decellularized matrix" that they seeded with mouse ovarian cells.

"This is the first study that demonstrates that scaffold architecture makes a difference in follicle survival", Shah says. Cancer treatments in young women creates hormone imbalance.

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