Soon 3-D Printers May Be Able To Treat Infertility

Can You Get Artificial Ovaries If Suffering From Infertility?

Hey Birds, ever daydream about being a cat-suit-clad bionic woman saving the world one karate chop at a time? (What, that’s just me?) Well, we might be one step closer to bionic awesomeness, and our fertility will potentially reap the benefits. Newly released research is proving that in the near future we may be able to preserve our fertility by printing us some new ovaries!


According to NPR, scientists just used a 3-D printer to make a mouse ovary that went on to make a healthy litter of pups!  And they hope to use the technology to address infertility in humans someday.

It’s really the holy grail of bioengineering for regenerative medicine.
— Teresa Woodruff, Ph.D. Director, Chief of Reproductive Biology Research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Northwestern University

The printer used is just like a 3-D printer you may have at home, but biological ink called gelatin is used to create artificial scaffolding for the damaged ovary. Once merged with a sample of biological tissue, the printed ovary has what it needs to regenerate itself and is placed back inside the subject.

Seven mice received these partially bionic ovaries, and their blood vessels instantly fused to the tissue creating fully functioning ovaries. Three out of the seven mice then went on to produce healthy offspring. Oh, and they're adorable. The science fiction cyborg prophecies are coming true, and are we complaining? In this case, heck no! Study on scientists, we're counting on you.


While this breakthrough definitely warrants an air hump victory dance, it will be some time before printed ovaries will be a standard ART treatment. The preliminary goal of this research is to restore ovaries in patients that became sterile after various treatments like chemotherapy. To do this successfully, ovarian tissue will have to be retrieved from the patient before their ovaries are compromised from chemotherapy. (Oh.)

To address infertility patients that do not have functional ovarian tissue, donor tissue would have to be further explored, or, much like egg freezing, women could choose to perverse some of their ovarian tissue for use at a later date. (Ahh.) Regardless, this research is creating a current in artificial reproductive technology that will open many doors in the years to come. (Cool.)


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