An all-female research team has developed 3-D printed ovary structures that could be a real game-changer for women who struggle to get pregnant.
The female reproductive system is absolutely incredible—and now, science may be able to make it even more so. Many women lose their ovarian function—whether because of cancer treatments or other issues—and face infertility and conception problems as a result. And that's why a new technological advancement is as heartening as it is promising—3-D printed ovary structures that actually ovulate.
According to a study in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and McCormick School of Engineering removed a female mouse's ovary and replaced it with the bioprosthetic ovary that they designed. The mouse ovulated and gave birth to—and nursed—healthy pups. The ovaries, made from 3-D printed scaffolds, housed immature eggs, boosted hormone production, and restored fertility in mice. Incredible!
Although this research echoes developments from other labs, Northwestern scientists' work differs in that they used a biological hydrogel called gelatin for the scaffolds, which is safe for human use. This particular material allows ovarian follicles to survive in the ovary, as well as blood vessels to form within the implant, which allow hormones to circulate in the bloodstream and trigger lactation.
And if all of that wasn't cool enough: The entire research team working so hard to find these phenomenal solutions to female reproductive challenges was made up of all women!
You can check out a video from Northwestern detailing the impressive research below: