OK. This is cool. Imagine replacing ovaries in women who had them removed due to cancer restoring fertility and hormone production.

The original article in Nature Communications is titled “A bioprosthetic ovary created using 3D printed microporous scaffolds restores ovarian function in sterilized mice”. Seriously. We can make an ovary that works in mice.

From the original article:

Follicle-seeded scaffolds become highly vascularized and ovarian function is fully restored when implanted in surgically sterilized mice. Moreover, pups are born through natural mating and thrive through maternal lactation. These findings present an in vivo functional ovarian implant designed with 3D printing, and indicate that scaffold pore architecture is a critical variable in additively manufactured scaffold design for functional tissue engineering.(1)Laronda, M. M., Rutz, A. L., Xiao, S., Whelan, K. A., Duncan, F. E., Roth, E. W., . . . Shah, R. N. (2017). A bioprosthetic ovary created using 3D printed microporous scaffolds restores ovarian function in sterilized mice. Nature Communications, 8, 15261. doi:10.1038/ncomms15261.

Summary from MdLinx…
3D printed Ovary

An all-female team of scientists at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and its McCormick School of Engineering, Evanston, IL, have created functioning 3D-printed ovaries. The bioprosthetic ovaries were implanted in sterilized mice, which were able to ovulate and birth live pups (see photo). The researchers documented their findings in a study published in Nature Communications.

The 3D-printed ovaries were made of gelatin, a biological hydrogel derived from collagen, which is abundant in both human and mouse ovaries. Also, as the researchers found, the design of the scaffold within the ovary was vitally important—their study was the first to demonstrate that scaffold architecture made a difference in the survival of follicles (the structures that house the eggs).

The scientists’ sole objective for developing the bioprosthetic ovaries was to help restore fertility and hormone production in those who’ve had cancer and may be experiencing diminished ovarian function.

Creating organ structures that function and restore the health of reproductive organs “is the holy grail of bioengineering for regenerative medicine,” said one researcher.

Photo from Mdlinx site – Laronda MM, et al; CC BY 4.0

References   [ + ]

1. Laronda, M. M., Rutz, A. L., Xiao, S., Whelan, K. A., Duncan, F. E., Roth, E. W., . . . Shah, R. N. (2017). A bioprosthetic ovary created using 3D printed microporous scaffolds restores ovarian function in sterilized mice. Nature Communications, 8, 15261. doi:10.1038/ncomms15261