A significant step in regenerative medicine - which is the practice of repairing damaged organs and tissue - 3d printed ovaries have been shown to produce babies in mice.
The study was published initially in Nature.com this morning, stating that "a gelatin ink was developed to create a well-defined microporous, bioactive scaffold with extrusion-based 3D printing".
A team from Northwestern university created a gelatin that was 3d printed to a certain size and shape which mimicked normal mice ovaries and was implanted into a live mouse, which produced a healthy pup.
"The key to success is the structure of the material used for 3D printing. It has to be made out of organic materials that the body won’t reject, but it also can’t be too soft because then it’ll fall apart during surgery and transplantation," the technology new site The Verge reports. "Previous attempts to 3D print ovaries used a substance that is mostly water, which makes it unstable. The Northwestern team used a jelly-like substance called collagen instead. The gelatin was built in multiple layers that made it sturdy, and so it didn’t collapse."
Apply this technique of 3d printing gelatin ovaries to humans could help solve the fertility issues that millions people face each year, however that is still years away as the size and shape of human ovaries make it a more difficult challenge.