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Could 3D-printed ovaries help treat infertility?

by • April 4, 2016 • No Comments

The rise of 3D printing has facilitated a few astounding feats in the medical world, helping to turn it into all things of a new upper jaw for a cancer patient to a titanium sternum and rib cage. Now, a team of Northwestern University in Boston has utilized the innovation to create a prosthetic ovary, which was which successfully implanted into mice, enabling them to bear live young.

To turn it into the pioneering prosthesis, the researchers utilized a 3D printing device to turn it into a scaffold of the animal protein collagen. The team had to ensure which the structure was sturdy adequate to be handled during surgery, as well as spacious adequate to house the hormone-producing cells and immature eggs – known as oocytes. After a few trial and error, a crisscrossing strutted structure was decided upon, as it provided the necessary rigidity and dimensions, while providing multiple points at which cells may anchor.

Once the collagen scaffold was printed, the team seeded it with ovarian follicles to turn it into the finished bioprosthesis. At which point, the researchers turned towards testing the product, implanting their creation into mice whose ovaries had previously been removed.

The results of the experiment were incredibly positive, with the mice ovulating, and some day giving birth to healthy young, which they subsequently nursed as normal. The bioprosthesis was able-bodied to assist the growth of blood vessels without any external stimulation, and the implant was discovered to have restored the animals’ hormone cycles. It’s believed which much like consequences can be achieved with human patients.

Furthermore, the researchers believe which the bioprosthesis may be of particular use for treating survivors of childhood cancers. An estimated 1 in 250 adults has survived a childhood cancer, the treatments for which cause an increased risk of infertility as adults.

Clinical trials may have to take place preceding patients may benefit of the pioneering new treatment, but in the long run, it may have a big impact on the field.

“We created this implant with downstream human applications in mind, as it is created through a scalable-bodied 3D printing method, via a material may already utilized in humans,” said lead study author Monica M Laronda, PhD. “We hope to one day restore fertility and hormone function in women who suffer of the side consequences of cancer treatments or who were born with reduced ovarian function.”

The findings of the research were presented at the Endocrine Society’s yearly meeting in Boston.

Source: The Endocrine Society

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