A new era of regenerative medicine could be on the horizon. A 3-D printed ovary allowed an infertile mouse to naturally mate and go on to give birth to two pups of their own, according to new research published Tuesday in Nature Communications.

The 3-D printed bioprosthetic ovary, as it’s termed, is “the holy grail of bioengineering for regenerative medicine,” said Teresa K. Woodruff, a reproductive scientist and director of the Women’s Health Research Institute at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
“The long-term goal for this is cancer patients,” Woodruff said. She hopes this new research, a collaboration with other scientists including Ramille Shah, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at McCormick School of Engineering, will result in a way to restore fertility in women who underwent life-preserving cancer treatments that rendered them sterile.
Ovaries are essential to the female reproductive system. Not only do these glandular organs produce hormones, when healthy, they release at least one egg each month for possible fertilization.