June 25, 2017

Scientists Create 3-D Ovary Used In Mice

18 May 2017, 08:22 | Elizabeth Houston

Scientists hit motherlode with 3-D printed gelatin ovaries

3D-printed ovaries restore fertility in mice

Cancer treatments are known to usually impact ovarian function and hence women's fertility, and this new development can help restore hormone production in those who've had cancer as adults, or as children.

A team of researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and McCormick School of Engineering has developed a process to create for fully-organic, 3D-printed ovarian bioprosthesis.

For the experiment, the scientists replaced the natural ovary of the female mouse with a 3D-printed ovary, which they said was like a scaffold that could hold immature eggs. The mice gave birth naturally and were able to feed their pups by producing milk. "No one else has been able to print gelatin with such well-defined and self-supported geometry". "The goal of the project is to be able to restore fertility and endocrine health to young cancer patients who have been sterilised by their cancer treatment". 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. "We're preparing to stun the world picture, which means each phase of the young lady's life, so adolescence through adulthood to a characteristic menopause".

Woodruff noted she hopes to address some of the challenges soon, such as finding a printing method that ensures the best chances of the egg cells maturing, as well as discovering a material that will create sustainable organs in humans. "We are also going to investigate the 3D printed design and materials on human ovarian follicles in culture".

"The objective of this scaffold is to recapitulate how an ovary would function". "It's important for cancer patients and their future, and it's important for the entire field of soft tissue transplants".

3-D printed body parts may seem straight out of a science fiction movie, but a recent medical breakthrough out of Northwestern University could use 3-D printing to benefit women who have lost their fertility. The team removed the mice's existing ovaries, sterilized them, preserved the tissue and preserved the cells that produce hormones.

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According to reproductive scientist Teresa K. Woodruff, one of the study authors, the bioprosthetic ovaries are able to function well on a long-term basis.

The basic unit of the ovary is the follicle, each of which contains a single egg surrounded by the cells that make the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago successfully implanted 3D-printed ovaries in mice, and those mouse moms delivered healthy babies.

"This is the first study that demonstrates that scaffold architecture makes a difference in follicle survival", Shah added.

The material used to print the structure is gelatin, a hydrogel formed from broken-down collagen.

Variety of scaffold structures: A look at multiple kinds of scaffold structures that can be created using gelatin. In some cases, cancer treatment triggers abnormal reproductive functioning, leading to infertility.

However, while such prospects are mind-bending and exciting in the extreme, the burgeoning 3D printing revolution is not without risks.

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