Researchers at Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital created the first artificial human ovary. This 3-D tissue structure was made with a triple cell line to mimic the functionality of the real organ.
Sandra Carson, director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Women & Hospital, claims she didn’t intentionally create the ovary. She just wanted a better medium to conduct her experiments in.
With the help of Brown professor Jerry Morgan, the researchers used 3-D Petri dishes to direct cells (which were donated from patients in reproductive age) to form desired shapes.
It’s unclear just how this honeycomb structure will function like a normal ovary. Will it be able to produce eggs?
It might. Experiments show that the 3-D structure could nurture eggs from early antral follicle until the egg matures.
For now, the artificial ovary will be useful for research purposes. It will answer questions about how healthy ovaries work and be used to investigate what happens when eggs mature and how the reproductive system interacts with the environment.
For clinical uses, researchers expect this artificial ovary to preserve the fertility of women who with might undergo cancer treatment.