3D Printed Ovaries Allow Infertile Mice to Give Birth
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Medicine
Here’s the scoop: scientists at Northwestern University 3D printed a functional ovary out of Jello-like material and living cells. When implanted into mice that had their ovaries removed, the moms regained their monthly cycle and gave birth to healthy pups.
The scientists presented their results last weekat the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in Boston.
Although the study was done in mice, “we developed this implant with downstream human applications in mind,” says lead author Dr. Monica Laronda in a press release.
If successful in humans, the prosthetic would be able to extend the female reproductive lifespan by decades. What’s more, it may also help restore fertility and hormone function in women who can’t have kids due to ovarian issues.
The first promising sign came when the mice restored their hormonal cycle, suggesting that at least the hormone-producing cells were alive and functional.
Just this one result would’ve been awesome. Many women have decreased production of reproductive hormones due to diseases such as PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) that can cause problems with bone density, weight and cardiovascular health, explained the researchers.
But then came the bombshell: following the implant, the mice ovulated, gave birth to healthy pups and were able to nurse them until weaning.
They solved 2 problems in 1 experiment, a good day for science and therefore the world. How close are we to making a totally artificial womb, like making a bio-robot (or whatever) that can give birth to a small human?
Restoring fertility to age-appropriate women is one thing. Extending it, possibly by decades no less, to women who are past their 'natural' child-bearing years would be arrogant and foolhardy. There's a tremendous tax drawn on the whole of a woman's body to physically carry and nurture (grow) a baby.
Well said, Marlene.
There are unintended consequences that science does not address.