3D Printed Ovaries

Julie Reindl
June 30th 2017

Bones, skulls, skin cells, 3D printing plays a big role in today's medicine and its presence will continue to grow. Researchers developed a new 3D printed bioprosthesis: in vitro ovaries made of biodegradable scaffold that might one day help women struggling with infertility.

This new technique is revolutionizing the field by completely relying on 3D printing. After having successfully implanted artificial ovaries in mice, scientists succeeded in creating a more stable environment for the growing eggs, increasing their chance of survival. The 3D printer uses natural gelatin which is constructed onto glass slides. Through constant overlapping, the printer generates different interweaved patterns, such patterns are key for the success. Through its tightly build structure, mice follicles (meaning a still developing mouse egg) and its surrounding hormone producing cells are then insert in its new gelatin ovary, ready to be implanted in the mouse body - resulting in an ovulating mouse, able to give birth to a new line of offsprings.

As 3D printing holds the mechanical possibility to reproduce materials on a large scale, what will this mean for the future of human reproduction? Testing the process in species closely related to humans will be the next step for the researchers. This procedure will not only help the patients, but it will also raise questions on how our reproduction system might look like in the future.

Source: Popular Science. Image: All3DP

To learn more about the way technology radically alters our attitude towards reproduction, but also to gender, relationships and love in the 21st century, tune in on the Artificial Womb research project.

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Should men be able to give birth to children?

Koert van Mensvoort: Is the artificial womb frankenstein-like symbol of (male) engineers trying to steal the magical womb from women? Or… is it a feminist project and needed to reach through equality between the sexes? I personally lean towards the latter. To me it feels like progress if a girl can tell a guy to carry the womb for a change.

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