New 3D-printed ovaries aids in hope for couples struggling with - KCTV5

New 3D-printed ovaries aids in hope for couples struggling with infertility

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Researchers at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and McCormick School of Engineering have successfully created a gelatin “scaffold” of an ovary they made with 3D technology. (File) Researchers at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and McCormick School of Engineering have successfully created a gelatin “scaffold” of an ovary they made with 3D technology. (File)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Having trouble getting pregnant can be frustrating and depressing.

“It can be emotional at times when you can see friends and other people having babies so easily and you’re kind of like, well what’s wrong with me. Why can’t it be that easy for us,” Katie Phelps said.

 For Katie and Tim Phelps, the reality was all so real.

“We wanted to have children. We just had to figure out how to get there,” Tim Phelps said.

After searching for an answer, the couple decided to try IVF. Later, the Phelps welcomed their twin boys Joshua and Michael.

“I just figured that when we decided as a couple that we were ready to start a family, that we would start a family. We never anticipated that it would take as long as it took. Or be as hard as it was,” Katie Phelps said.

According to infertility specialist Dr. Ryan Riggs, almost one in six couples face infertility.

“I always tell my patients, if you’re at a Chiefs game or Royals game or you’re down at the Sprint Center and you walk by six couples, one of them has infertility. So you’re definitely not alone,” Riggs said.

Riggs said infertility in women is linked to a number of causes, including cancer treatment, genetic diseases and early menopause. He said in these cases, essentially the ovaries, which produce and release eggs, stop working. He cites egg health as a significant reason women struggle with infertility.

“If the patient is not ovulating, we can give them medication to help them ovulate. But you know what we can’t fix? We can’t truly address the fundamental issue of bad eggs,” Riggs said.

Though now, a new study by the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and McCormick School of Engineering has the potential to address that problem. Researchers successfully created a gelatin “scaffold” of an ovary they made with 3D technology.

“Then populated that scaffolding with immature mouse eggs,” Riggs said.

This “scaffold” was created with organic materials safe to use in humans.  

“Then they took mice, they removed the normal ovary, replaced that with the bio synthetic ovary and mated them and got healthy mouse pups,” Riggs said.

The moms were even able to nurse their offspring.

It is a breakthrough in technology that Riggs said could be an answer for those struggling with infertility.  

“The idea of a potential, if you will, egg transfusion being successful and taking that bio prosthetic ovary and putting it into a patient…that would potentially be one of the holy grails of treatment in the infertility world,” Riggs said.

As for Katie and Tim Phelps, now that their twins are three, they’re hoping to have another child. Though due to more medical advancements, they’ll be going a different route than the first time.

“Three years later Dr. Riggs tells us he would have done it differently. That the IVF technology has changed. We put two embryos in and he says today he’d only put one in. Because the odds are so much better with the technology today.” Tim Phelps said.

According to Riggs, this breakthrough in technology probably won’t happen for humans for several years.

However, when it does he says it has the potential to impact millions.

“I feel like any advances are wonderful and great. I think it gives people hope that something will help other couples and help them possibly be able to be successful and have children,” Katie Phelps said.

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