3D printing technology has brought to us many wonders. The advances went on to 3D printed house, 3D printed selfies starting from 3D printed filaments and small elements. This doesn’t come to our surprise, as scientists announce the use of 3D printing technology to develop 3D printed ovaries and help infertile mice produce a living offspring.
Scientists from Northwestern University used 3D printing technology and develop a scaffold with follicles. The synthetic ovaries were then developed by printing porous scaffolds from gelatin ink. The scaffolds contain the fill of follicles (sacs like fluid filled structure that contain immature egg cells) from the ovarian tissue. With such ovary implants using 3D printed ovaries, infertile mice restores their fertility and gives birth to healthy pups.
The implant with the prosthetic ovaries boosts hormone production and increases fertility in mice. Scientists found that the synthetic ovaries had a normal blood supply within a week. The 3D printed ovaries started releasing eggs naturally through the gelatin structure eventually after the blood flow began.
The study that led to the birth of healthy pups by ovarian bioprosthesis is a step closer towards restoring the fertility of young women whose reproductive systems have fallen weak by cancer treatments. Cancer treatment in young women creates hormone imbalance. This may reduce the egg production that leaves them infertile. But now artificial ovaries are a hope that would help them restore their fertility. Prior to the treatments, cryopreserving the ovaries can develop new synthetic ovaries. So, after the recovery, they can perform the transplant.
Teresa Woodruff of Northwestern University says that the ultimate goal is to restore endocrine health and fertility to the young cancer patients, sterilized by cancer.
The scientists took to journal Nature Communications to describe the process of printing lattices of gelatin. The pores in the structures needed to be carefully structured to hold the follicles and develop connect with the blood vessel. Only with the proper development of scaffolds, the implant will release mature eggs, so as normal ovulation.
The transplant can also help women who suffer from a low ovarian reserve. Moreover, older women who have a harder time conceiving due to the aging of their eggs can also have a healthy reproduction.
Earlier, scientists had developed artificial ovaries for mice and have been successful at developing mouse babies. Certain Japanese scientists were able to make mouse babies using the skin cells. But this is the first time using 3D printing technology.