"The real breakthrough here is we're building a real ovarian prosthesis and the goal of this project is to be able to restore fertility to young cancer patients who have been sterilised by their cancer treatment", said Dr Teresa Woodruff, a reproductive scientist director of the Women's Health Research Institute, at Northwestern University, in IL.
According to Wired, Teresa Woodruff, a reproductive scientist at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and co-author of the study, said that they are planning on using ovarian tissues as ink.
"We're hoping these advances are going to lead to more options for pediatric and adult cancer patients in the future", Woodruff said.
The 3D-printed scaffold was made of gelatine, produced by breaking down collagen, a protein found throughout your body in muscles, bones and skin.
The paper will be published May 16 in Nature Communications.
"They have managed to create a matrix in which they can embed ovarian tissue and they've then managed to implant that back in a mouse and made it work", she said.
However, a team of bioengineers reported a way to possibly change this - by printing working 3D ovaries.
The technology could have significant implications for women with fertility issues, particularly cancer patients who often lose their ovarian function after intensive chemotherapy.
Variety of scaffold structures: A look at multiple kinds of scaffold structures that can be created using gelatin.
"The goal of this scaffold is to recapitulate how an ovary would function", Laronda explained.
It sounds simple enough, but the survival of the organs depended wholly on the specific patterning of the pores in the 3D-printed scaffolding.
Sterilised mice were used for the experiment in which their ovaries were replaced by artificial 3D-printed ovaries.
Laronda: We needed the spherical follicle to be supported enough to maintain the connections between the hormone-producing support cells and the centralized oocyte (potential egg cell), but dynamic enough to accommodate the expansion of large preovulatory follicles and ovulation of an egg. Not only do these glandular organs produce hormones, when healthy they also release at least one egg each month for possible fertilization.
Monica Laronda, co-lead author of this research and a former post-doctoral fellow in Woodruff's lab, says the idea would be to create ovaries that would offer long-term use. Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago successfully implanted 3D-printed ovaries in mice, and those mouse moms delivered healthy babies.
"Without a 3-D platform", said Shah, "we wouldn't have been able to demonstrate that scaffold architecture makes a difference in follicle survival".
"Every month there is this really remarkable event", said Woodruff. They then let them sit for four days so the follicles could establish a connection to each other before surgically implanting them in mice with their ovaries removed. And there's still some way to go before these 3D printed gelatin scaffolds are implanted into humans - this method would be tested in cultural models first as a safety measure, just as it was for the mice, and as it will be for the next animal model: Mini pigs.