What can you make with a 3D printer?
Technologists say, ‘ANYTHING YOU WANT’! A world where you can literally make anything you want, just by pressing "print". From hearing aids to ornaments to parts for NASA to making printed organs.
Now the new world of 3-D printed organs includes implanted ovary structures that look exactly like natural ovaries, and can actually ovulate, according to a study by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and McCormick School of Engineering.
Sounds like science-fiction, but you read it right! 3D-printed ovaries now being made and used to let infertile mice give birth to its progenies, giving hopes to human to resume their halted pregnancy.
Bet, this is something even Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press, would not have imagined 600 years ago!
A team of oncologists and fertility specialists did an experiment on seven mice. They surgically removed the ovaries of the mice and implanted the artificial ovaries they created using the 3D printer. After mating, three of the seven mice gave birth to healthy pups that developed from eggs released by the implants. They were fed on their mothers’ milk and later on gave birth to their own pups, all healthy!
The synthetic ovaries were created by printing porous scaffolds from a gelatin ink and filling them with follicles (the tiny, fluid-holding sacs that contain immature egg cells). The researchers printed layered lattices of gelatin strips. The sizes and positions of the holes in the structures were carefully controlled to hold dozens of follicles and allow blood vessels to connect to the implants. Mature eggs were expected to be released from the implants just like any natural ovulation.
According to the report of the scientists working on the project, the implants hooked up to the blood supply within a week and went on to release eggs naturally through the pores built into the gelatin structures.
“Our hope is that one day this ovarian bioprosthesis is really going to be the ovary of the future,” said Teresa Woodruff, the reproductive endocrinologist and chief of the Division of Fertility Preservation at the Feinberg School of Medicine. “The goal of the project is to be able to restore fertility and endocrine health to young cancer patients who have been sterilized by their cancer treatment.”
This ovarian bioprosthesis is indeed a milestone in the medical history, making the invention of artificial ovaries a possible good news for young women whose pregnancy have been halted with no hope, damaged by cancer or owing to hormonal imbalances. Of course, it would a boon if it comes to reality than remaining a hope.
Human follicles are larger compared to that of little mice and grow rapidly until visible with naked eye. Hence, this puts a question if the same tactic will work for human. A sure challenge for the team, but if they have made it this far, we have the hope!