Health Care

Researchers Look to Restore Fertility with 3-D Printed Ovaries

Researchers Look to Restore Fertility with 3-D Printed Ovaries”

Three mothers with bioprosthetic ovaries fostered healthy litters of pups, while those with sham scaffolds did not.

"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. What if, the thinking goes, science and medicine could be used to simply restore fertility to women who for one reason or another no longer have it? If all goes well, they plan on introducing the technology to human patients gradually, starting with structures that only substitute hormone production, before working towards fully functioning artificial organs.

"That's the real promise of this technology".

Monica Laronda: Creating an engineered ovary was motivated by the need to restore hormone function and the option of fertility in young girls or women whose ovaries are affected by disease or treatments.

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The artificial ovaries even helped the mice to produce breast milk to feed their newborn. They published their findings Tuesday in Nature Communications.

3-D printing an ovary structure is like a tyke utilizing Lincoln Logs, said Alexandra Rutz, co-lead creator of the review and a previous biomedical building graduate individual in Shah's Tissue Engineering and Additive Manufacturing (TEAM) lab at the Simpson Querrey Institute.

"Live birth was achieved with the implant alone; angiogenic growth factors [used to encourage new blood vessels], hormone stimulation and embryo transfer were not required".

"We think that this could help research into other organs as well that require similar functional unit dynamics".

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SCIENTISTS HAVE MADE a breakthrough in their quest to find solutions to fertility difficulties - and it involves 3D-printed organs.

The Northwestern University researchers primed a 3D printer with a nozzle capable of firing gelatin, derived from a collagen naturally found in mammalian ovaries.

"Most hydrogels are very weak, since they're made up of mostly water, and will often collapse on themselves", says Ramille Shah, a material scientist and author of the study, in a press release. "No one else has been able to print gelatin with such well-defined and self-supported geometry", said Shah. It also ensures there's enough space for eggs (which are some of the largest single human cells at 0.12 millimeters) to mature in.

"From a human point of view we are way off being able to use that in clinical practice, but it's a step towards that". The scaffold supports the survival of immature egg cells, provides the space those cells need to mature and ovulate, as well as supporting the cells responsible for boosting hormone production. The risky thing to do in this case would be for doctors to save parts of the woman's ovarian tissue to re-implant them later-it's a risk because there is the possibility that the tissue could contain the cancer they'd survived. The prosthetics should offer an alternative long-term treatment for these patients, who didn't have any alternative apart from ovarian transplants (usually from cadavers) address their condition until now.

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