3D-Printed, Implanted Ovaries Produce Healthy Offspring for Infertile Mice
With the objective of restoring fertility and hormone production in women who have undergone cancer treatments, Northwestern University biomedical engineers have successfully implanted ovary structures into mice that actually ovulate. They removed a female mouse's ovary and replaced it with a bioprosthetic ovary, allowing the mouse to ovulate and give birth to healthy pups. Constructed of 3D-printed scaffolds that house immature eggs, the bioprosthetic ovaries have also boosted hormone production and restored fertility in mice - the researchers' ultimate goal. The architecture of the scaffold is made out of gelatin, a biological hydrogel made from broken-down collagen that is safe to use in humans. The team found a gelatin temperature that allows it to be self-supporting, not collapse, and lead to building multiple layers. Printing a gelatin with such well-defined and self-supported geometry had not been done before.