Mice With 3D-Printed Ovaries Successfully Give Birth
AsKatherine Kornei at Science reports,the researchers used a 3D printer to build the scaffolding of the organs, weaving layers of gelatin to createtiny (15 x 15 millimeter) ovaries on glass slides. They then tested the scaffolds by embedding a follicle—the tiny sacs composed of hormone-secreting cells that containthe maturing eggs. This test suggested that the tightest weave supported the highest survival rates, reports Kornei.
So the researchers punched tiny circles out of the tightly woven structures and stocked the ovaries with 40 to 50 follicles. Then they replaced seven mice’s natural ovarieswith thebioprosthetic version. Thefollicles on the scaffolding were able to hook up with the blood supplies of the mice within a week, and theovaries eventually released eggs, reports Sample, just like natural ovaries.
Researchers allowed the mice to mate; out of the seven mice that received the ovaries, three gave birth, producing healthy offspring, Kornei reports. The mouse mothers also lactated normally, a sign that the follicles in their ovaries were producing the correct amount of hormones. Susan Scutti at CNNreports that the researchers were actually surprised that the ovaries worked the first time around.
Now they are interested in building an ovary version 2.0 that has different size pores that can hold follicles at different stages of maturity.