Bio-ink promises 3D printing of functional human ovaries
Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) and early menopause are serious off-target effects, affecting approximately 1 in 6 of female cancer survivors. POI has a plethora of biological effects beyond fertility, and is associated with an increased risk of several comorbidities, as a result of a lack of ovarian hormones. Previous work in ovariectomised mice has shown that ovaries created using 3D printed gelatine scaffolds have successfully restored hormone production and fertility. However, there is a need to understand the native microenvironment and move towards translation for human use.
Henning et al. recently published work detailing the development of a bio-ink for 3D printing bioprosthetic ovaries. Pig ovaries have the same structural proteins as those found in human ovaries, and the locations of structural proteins were identified and imbued into the bio-ink, resulting in an abundant source of proteins to create a complex bio-ink for 3D printing human ovaries. The use of such technology creates the possibility of 3D printing of artificial ovaries that have the potential to be implanted into infertile women, to restore their fertility.
This exciting research aims to use ovarian structural proteins to engineer a biological scaffold capable of supporting a bank of potential eggs and hormone-producing cells. It is envisioned that upon implantation, the artificial ovary could respond to natural cues for ovulation, so enabling pregnancy.
Read the full article in Scientific Reports 9 20001 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-56454-3