Implanting a 3D printed ovary in mice that have had their ovaries removed restores fertility
There are many women who have survived childhood cancer but are infertile as a consequence. In an effort to recreate a new ovary environment to correct this, scientists used a 3D printer to mold a gelatin scaffold. Taking inspiration from biology, they included crisscrossing structural elements to enable growing cells to stick to the structure properly.
"One of the biggest concerns for patients diagnosed with cancer is how the treatment may affect their fertility and hormone health. We are developing new ways to restore their quality of life by engineering ovary bioprosthesis implants"
When these were implanted in mice with their ovaries removed, they were amazingly able to restore the female hormone cycle, ovulation and even allowed the mice to nurse and give birth to healthy young too. Built with material already used in human implants, the researchers hope to translate the technology to human use - allowing restoration of hormone production and fertility.
"We developed this implant with downstream human applications in mind, as it is made through a scalable 3D printing method, using a material already used in humans. We hope to one day restore fertility and hormone function in women who suffer from the side effects of cancer treatments or who were born with reduced ovarian function"
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