In future, kids may be born from '3D-printed ovaries'

This so-called 3-D bioprinting has already been used to tissue engineer new skin, bone, heart tissue, cartilage, and other body parts.

Importantly, the architecture of the scaffold and the material, or "ink", that was used in the bioprosthetic ovaries are different from other 3-D printed structures, added Ramille Shah, Assistant Professor at the Northwestern University.

Chemotherapy and high doses of radiation used in cancer treatment can destroy some or all of a woman's eggs, putting them at risk of infertility and an early menopause.

Teresa K. Woodruff, the director of the Women's Health Research Institute at Feinberg, says the project shows that it may one day be possible to bioengineer ovaries for humans.

In their study paper, the authors note that current approaches - including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and ovarian transplants - do not provide "long-term solutions and leave pediatric patients with metastatic disease without options". "It's good to see research into new ways that might maintain fertility".

The male mouse that was created from the original bioprosthetic ovary transplant was able to mate with a non-green mother, and father a litter of mixed (green and not-green) pups.

The structure was implanted into mice whose ovaries had been removed. For instance, it wasn't known until just now that the precise geometry of the ovary has a huge effect on whether or not the ovarian follicles - the supporting cells that encase an immature egg cell - will become viable within the ovary.

Laronda said, "The objective of this scaffold is to recapitulate how an ovary would function".

She said ovarian tissue was now removed from cancer patients and then grafted back to allow them to have children.

A team of researchers from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and the McCormick School of Engineering has successfully implanted 3D bioprinted prosthetic ovaries into a number of infertile mice.

The researchers' sole target for building up the bioprosthetic ovaries was to help reestablish fruitfulness and hormone generation in ladies who have experienced grown-up tumor medications or the individuals who survived youth growth and now have expanded dangers of barrenness and hormone-based formative issues. Mature eggs were then released from the implants as happens in normal ovulation.

In medical 3-D printing, scientists manufacture tissues or even rudimentary organs in the lab by depositing and fusing together various materials, including even living cells. Laronda said the researchers 3D-printed the ovaries since the printing is scalable and can be changed according to size, shape, or materials required for the ovaries to be functional in humans.

The implant with the prosthetic ovaries boosts hormone production and increases fertility in mice. The open structure additionally enables space for the egg cells to develop and ovulate, and also veins to shape inside the embed empowering the hormones to flow inside the mouse circulatory system and trigger lactation subsequent to conceiving an offspring.

Researchers found the initial results to be promising, but much more experimentation will be necessary before the technique can be fully adapted to humans.

The researchers created a structure that was rigid enough to stand up to surgery and which was porous enough to work with the mouse's body tissues.

  • Carolyn Briggs