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Bioengineered Scaffolds: Another Step Toward Fertility Restoration?

By: Celeste L. Dixon
Posted: Friday, April 26, 2019

A scaffold upon which one idea supports another, then another and another, ad infinitum, until the solution to a problem has been completely birthed, is an apt metaphor for all medical progress. Appropriately, then, in Scientific Reports, bioengineers described a new literal scaffold, to support follicle reimplantation that may enable women whose cancerous ovaries have been removed to have children someday. In short, it’s a step in the development of an artificial ovary.

Tissue engineering to restore fertility is of avid interest in the scientific community, noted co-lead investigator Aldo R. Boccaccini, PhD, of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, and colleagues. They described how in their work how “innovative patterned electrospun fibrous scaffolds were fabricated and used as 3D system for porcine follicles culture” in a feasibility study. These scaffolds’ structures mimicked the morphology of healthy native tissue, thus the investigators reported that the use of porcine follicles had many advantages over mouse follicles in this research.

This work is another step in the process of helping women—and even girls who develop pediatric ovarian cancer—who are not candidates for other fertility preservation approaches, even ovarian tissue cryopreservation and reimplantation. Here, “isolation of the follicles from ovarian tissue and then reimplantation of isolated follicles in the form of [an] artificial ovary can ensure that no malignant cells will be returned back to the patient,” wrote the investigators.

In their research, Dr. Boccaccini and his team found, even more “than the scaffold pattern and struts dimension, the selection of proper biomaterials improve the follicles’ adhesion and development.” The investigators utilized the biodegradable polyester poly(epsilon caprolactone) as well as gelatin in fabricating their scaffolds.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.



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