New 3D Printed Ovaries Have Allowed Infertile Mice to Give Birth

Human trials are on the cards.


Scientists from the Northwestern University have just got success in giving the ability to mice to birth healthy offspring. This becomes possible because of newly developed 3D printed ovaries. When connecting with animal’s blood supply, these 3D printed ovaries stat releasing eggs. According to scientists, it will be an option for women with reproductive systems that have been damaged by cancer treatments.

Scientists created these artificial ovaries by using gelatin as the ‘ink’ in the 3D printer and porous. Generally, gelatin is used as a type of biological hydrogel that’s less likely to be rejected by the body and porous helps it interact with the host’s tissues and blood supply.

Using hydrogels for making ovaries could make ovaries softer. But, scientists manipulate their gelatin ink to give it a flexible but firm quality.

One of the researchers, Ramille Shah said, “Most hydrogels are very weak, since they’re made up of mostly water, and will often collapse on themselves.”

“We found a gelatin temperature that allows it to be self-supporting, not collapse, and lead to building multiple layers. No one else has been able to print gelatin with such well-defined and self-supported geometry.”

The survival of the organs depends completely on the pores in the 3D platform. Each pore needs to placed within the various lattice layers to hold dozens of working follicles. The follicles are nothing but the sacs that contain immature egg cells – and allow them to grow.

There must be an environment that provides cross-talk between these follicles because that’s how the natural ovary signals for only specific ones to ovulate.

It is the first ever study that demonstrates just how crucial this patterning is to ensure the long-term success of artificial ovaries.

In experiments, scientists transformed the 3D printed ovaries in mice whom ovaries surgically removed. The seven that mated after the implant, three gave birth to litters of offspring. The mice were also able to lactate. Means, their hormone signals were still in working order after having their natural ovaries removed.

Currently, scientists are planning to test these artificial ovaries in pigs, and if all goes well, human trials will follow.

Monica Laronda, one of the team member said, “This would be especially important in young cancer patients, who are yet to go through puberty, and need their artificial ovaries to grow with them.”

“What happens with some of our cancer patients is that their ovaries don’t function at a high enough level and they need to use hormone replacement therapies in order to trigger puberty.”

“The purpose of this scaffold is to recapitulate how an ovary would function. We’re thinking big picture, meaning every stage of the girl’s life, so puberty through adulthood to a natural menopause.”

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