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Scientists Develop 3D Printed Mouse Ovaries

Science Magazine reports on yet another astounding breakthrough 3D printing is bringing to the medical industry.  Scientists at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and McCormick School of Engineering collaborated to 3D print mouse ovaries.

According to these teams’ findings published in Nature Communications, these “prosthetic ovaries made of gelatin have allowed mice to conceive and give birth to healthy offspring.”  One day, the team at Northwestern hopes 3D printed ovaries such as these could “be used to help restore fertility in cancer survivors rendered sterile by radiation or chemotherapy.”

“The researchers used a 3D printer with a nozzle that fired gelatin, derived from the collagen that’s naturally found in animal ovaries.  The scientists built the ovaries by printing various patterns of overlapping gelatin filaments on glass slides – like building with Lincoln Logs, but on a miniature scale: each scaffold measured just 15 by 15 millimeters.  The team then carefully inserted mouse follicles – spherical structures containing a growing egg surrounded by hormone-producing cells – into these ‘scaffolds.’”

The team at Northwestern “then tested the more tightly woven scaffolds in live mice [by punching] out 2-millimter circles through the scaffolds and implanting 40-50 follicles into each one, creating a ‘bioprosthetic’ ovary.  [Subsequently, they] surgically removed the ovaries from seven mice and sutured the prosthetic ovaries in their place…the researchers allowed the mice to mate, and three of the females gave birth to healthy litters.”

The Northwestern researchers are hopeful these sorts of 3D printed bioprosthetic ovaries will be available for humans in the future.

Image Courtesy of Tech Crunch

Quotes Courtesy of Science Magazine

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