Infertile mice with 3D-printed ovaries give birth

CHICAGO - An infertile mouse implanted with a 3D-printed ovary gave birth to healthy babies, CNN reported.

The findings by the Women's Health Research Institute at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine were published in Nature Communications on Tuesday (May 16).

It gives hope to women cancer patients who became sterile after receiving treatment for cancer, said reproductive scientist Teresa Woodruff, who is head of the Institute.

Researchers from the Institute collaborated with scientists from the McCormick School of Engineering to produce a 3D-printed structure that was embedded with ovary follicles.

Follicles, the basic unit of the ovary, consist of a single egg surrounded by cells that produce hormones estrogen and progesterone.

The structure was implanted into mice whose ovaries had been removed.

After the follicles matured, the mice began ovulating. They mated naturally and gave birth to two pups each.

The researchers, who will be replicating their work and refining the bioprothetic, were themselves surprised that it worked on their first try, CNN reported.

Other body parts, including cartilage, muscle and bone, have been 3D-printed and implanted into patients, but this is a first for the ovary.

Researchers are hoping to start trials with a human implant within five years.