3-D printing may still seem like something of a novel wonder of the future, but its practical uses are emerging right now — and promising even more potentially life-changing possibilities in years to come. Case in point: A major breakthrough in the field reported this week could offer hope to women and girls whose cancer treatments will leave them sterile or with conception difficulties. Researchers from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and McCormick School of Engineering believe that 3-D printed ovaries may help women get pregnant one day, because they already successfully implanted the so-called ovarian bioprothesis in mice. Three of the seven who underwent the procedure gave birth to healthy pups, and were even able to nurse them.
The researchers, whose findings were published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, used 3-D printing to create a scaffold-like structure of gelatin that could be used to store immature eggs, according to CBS News. Once they replaced the mice’s ovaries with this structure, the prosthesis was able to release eggs and even stimulate hormone production, which is why the mice were ultimately able to produce milk and nurse. This marks the very first time that 3-D printing has been used to build artificial…
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