Scientists from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine performed and published the new research in Nature Communications about a 3D printed ovary structure that had cultured ovarian follicles and was implanted into a sterile mouse, which caused the mouse to ovulate and mate. Ultimately, the mouse gave birth to two pups and was able to nurse them both. The problem comes about for most mothers who are planning to have additional children in the future. The functional applications of the bioprosthetic ovary is revolutionary in the bioengineering arena with the possibility of testing this research in humans in five years, according to researchers. Ultimately, this can give infertile cancer patients, specifically those who had undergone chemotherapy and or radiation, a second chance at parenthood by restoring and improving fertility in women.
The hardest part is using the correct materials that will work for body parts ranging from dermal tissues (skin), ears, bones and heart valves. Human cells, from biopsies to stem cells, are reproduced and turned into a “biological ink,” which is used to create an organ in a 3-D printer, in lieu of the plastic materials that is used in most commercial 3D printers out in the market. Researchers are hopeful that the results of this research are positive but additional studies and research must done to determine the effectiveness of these new treatments.
As new research continues to grow and evolve, intended parents will have additional options with bioprosthesis to turn to that can complement their options or be a total alternative of in-vitro fertilization (IVF). These alternatives will provide patients with increased opportunities to have a child or children of their own.
Photo Credit: The New York Post
Video Credit: CBS Boston (WBZ-TV)