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The future of infertility treatment: fully-functional 3D-printed ovaries are on the way

Are you still skeptical about 3D printing? Well then get ready, because scientists just pulled off the seemingly impossible: fully-functional, 3D printed ovaries!

That’s right: some smart folks in a lab managed to coax a bunch of inert atoms through one of those new-fangled printing machines, and the end result is an actual working, living organ.

And it doesn’t just look the part — this baby delivers the goods: 3D printed ovaries not only perform the usual hormonal functions of their biological counterparts; they also produce eggs by way of ovulation!

And for those of you who are still skeptical even after that news, know this: those eggs are viable. That’s right: 3D printed ovaries can actually produce normal, healthy offspring.

That’s likely to be the weirdest thing you’ll read on the internet today. As well as being the news with the craziest long-term consequences.

But some of you might still be naysaying, wondering to yourselves why this matters when humans already have working ovaries that apparently get the job done just fine.

A few important reasons on that score: many, many people with damaged ovaries would like very much to have children. And this new technique might allow them to do so. Not to mention people whose ovaries were never damaged, but still cannot produce viable eggs for any number of reasons.

I’m sure some readers will be nodding their heads at this point, having first-hand experience of such issues. No doubt they’ll be interested to know how this came about.

As usual with this sort of long-shot medical breakthrough, we have academia to thank. In this case, that means Northwestern University, and also the McCormick School of Engineering. Those are the two institutions who managed to pull off this incredible breakthrough, using the ovarian follicles of mice.

So, back to those naysayers again for a moment: yes, we’re talking about mice at this stage, not humans. Bud that’s how these things go. So deal with it.

As an amazing added bonus, the artificial ovaries actually improve on their shoddy evolutionarily-produced counterparts in many ways. For example, they demonstrate improved hormone production, and even improved fertility:

So for those humans who read all the way to the end, who are wondering when they can get their own shiny new ovaries? It’s not all that far in the future: probably about ten years until human trials will begin, is the current estimate. So don’t hold your breath. But keep you fingers crossed anyway.

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