3D printing technology has been one of the most revolutionary advancements in our modern age. And since it came along, people have been printing literally everything from toys to repair parts, vehicles, buildings and even food. It is therefore not surprising to anyone that the medical field has also been testing the technology and achieving great feats thanks to it. So far, ears, bones, and heart valves have been printed and used successfully. Recently however, an even more stunning project was able to render infertile mice fertile again thanks to a 3D printed ovary.
- The hope behind this experiment is that a human version of this prosthetic could potentially allow women who survived cancer but lost their fertility due to chemotherapy or radiation to conceive again.
- In a research that was called significant and a landmark of reproductive bioengineering, the team printed mice ovaries using a collagen that is found in animals and used them to surgically replace the natural ovaries of 7 female mice. The body surprisingly accepted the superficial elements immediately and they instantly became a functioning part of the blood stream.
- Once that was settled, the scientists allowed the mice to mate. The results were extremely positive as three of the seven mice conceived and birthed healthy litters which they lactated naturally thus proving that the process did not involve any abnormal levels of hormones.
At the moment, the only obstacle to printing human organs remains the vascularization or the passing of the blood vessels into their printed counterparts, which is a difficult process due to the size of these vessels. However, this research means that such a thing can indeed be achieved but much more trial and error will be required before that becomes a common practice for our species.