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Mouse Mates And Successfully Gives Birth With 3D-Printed Ovary

17 May 2017, 12:42 pm EDT By Steve Bowman Tech Times
A mouse infused with a 3D-printed ovary gave birth to healthy pups. This led scientists to wonder whether this technology can be used on humans in the future to cure infertility.  ( Uriel Sinai | Getty Images )

3D printers have become quite popular in the scientific community and new studies are being performed with the help of this technology, which could completely revolutionize the scientific world.

In one such extraordinary feat in the medical field, researchers successfully infused a 3D-printed ovary inside a mouse. This mouse has given birth to healthy pups from this artificially-designed bioprosthetic ovary.

How The Bioprosthetic Ovary Was Introduced Into The Mouse

Researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine performed the experiment. For the experiment, the scientists replaced the natural ovary of the female mouse with a 3D-printed ovary, which they said was like a scaffold that could hold immature eggs.

This scaffold was created from a type of gelatin, which is safe for living creatures. This "hydrogel" was strong enough to allow researchers to build the scaffolding structure. At the same time, the material was porous enough to allow interaction with the tissues of the mouse.

According to researcher Ramille Shah, the greatest accomplishment was creating the hydrogel material to perfection. She claims that most hydrogel materials are made from water and this makes them too weak to withstand additional weight.

Shah added that the researchers were the first to figure out the perfect temperature for the hydrogel and 3D print the material. This was not only able to support its own weight, but also allowed researchers to build layers and develop the ovary's scaffold structure.

This structure created and infused inside the female mouse allowed the ovarian follicles, which produce hormones during pregnancy, to function properly within the manufactured ovary and led to the creature eventually delivering healthy pups.

Can 3D-Printed Ovaries Be Used To Treat Infertility In Humans?

The successful infusion of the 3D-printed ovary in the mouse — along with the delivery — led scientists to wonder if the technology can be used in the future to treat infertility in humans.

"Using bioengineering, instead of transplanting from a cadaver, to create organ structures that function and restore the health of that tissue for that person, is the holy grail of bioengineering for regenerative medicine," researcher Teresa Woodruff stated.

Researchers claimed that in the future, this technology may be beneficial to women who may lose the ability to conceive as a result of a disease like cancer. In some cases, cancer treatment triggers abnormal reproductive functioning, leading to infertility. Researchers are optimistic that 3D printing will soon find a solution to these problems.

Scientists also point out that tests done on lab animals rarely show the same result when performed on human subjects. Therefore, a lot more research needs to be conducted before the technology can be used on humans.

The study's results have been published in the journal Nature Communications. Check out the video explaining the research and the results below.

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