First, artificial wombs
and now this!
Researchers have previously replaced mice's ovaries with 3d printed ones and now, that rodents gave birth to healthy pups!
Creating the artificial ovaries was no easy task. The researchers had to make sure that the materials used aren't too soft to handle during surgeries and something organic that the body won't reject. Previous attempts to make these have used a substance that is mostly water which resulted to instability.
This recent bioprosthetic ovaries, however, are effective in holding an egg cell because it was made with collagen, a jelly-like substance, built in layers for the structure to be sturdy and flexible at the same time. With this, they were finally able to create one that holds ovarian murine follicles (murine means rodent) which consequently hold developing egg cells long enough for the cells to ovulate, conceive and ultimately, give birth.
Unfortunately, the product still has a long way to go to get to humans. Human follicles in the ovaries are much, much bigger than the mice's and grow too quickly that the shape of the ovary would need to be changed often.
However, the researchers are hopeful and are looking forward to use this technology to help women in restoring hormone and fertility function. "In future years, the 3D printed bioprosthetic scaffold can be repopulated with ovarian tissues (either native or iPS derived). The advantage of 3D printing is the opportunity to scale the size of the tissue to the size needed for the transplant recipient (e.g., for a child who is transitioning through puberty or for an adult)," the authors said in their study
Now that's something you don't hear everyday.