3D-printed ovaries allow infertile mice to give birth | Science | The Guardian
Infertile mice have given birth to healthy pups after having their fertility restored with ovary implants made with a 3D printer.
Researchers created the synthetic ovaries by printing porous scaffolds from a gelatin ink and filling them with follicles, the tiny, fluid-holding sacs that contain immature egg cells.
In tests on mice that had one ovary surgically removed, scientists found that the implants hooked up to the blood supply within a week and went on to release eggs naturally through the pores built into the gelatin structures.
The work marks a step towards making artificial ovaries for young women whose reproductive systems have been damaged by cancer treatments, leaving them infertile or with hormone imbalances that require them to take regular hormone-boosting drugs.
Of seven mice that mated after receiving the artificial ovaries, three gave birth to pups that had developed from eggs released by the implants. The mice fed normally on their mother’s milk and went on to have healthy litters of their own later in life.
L’article de Nature (mai 2017) est entièrement accessible
Emerging additive manufacturing techniques enable investigation of the effects of pore geometry on cell behavior and function. Here, we 3D print microporous hydrogel scaffolds to test how varying pore geometry, accomplished by manipulating the advancing angle between printed layers, affects the survival of ovarian follicles. 30° and 60° scaffolds provide corners that surround follicles on multiple sides while 90° scaffolds have an open porosity that limits follicle–scaffold interaction. As the amount of scaffold interaction increases, follicle spreading is limited and survival increases. Follicle-seeded scaffolds become highly vascularized and ovarian function is fully restored when implanted in surgically sterilized mice. Moreover, pups are born through natural mating and thrive through maternal lactation. These findings present an in vivo functional ovarian implant designed with 3D printing, and indicate that scaffold pore architecture is a critical variable in additively manufactured scaffold design for functional tissue engineering.