One of the biggest stories in medical 3D printing from the past few months came out of Northwestern University, where researchers 3D printed a working ovary and implanted it into a mouse, which then successfully became pregnant and gave birth. That was an incredible achievement in itself, and represents a beacon of hope for women suffering from infertility. While the team was developing the 3D printed ovary, however, the study also branched out in another direction, thanks to a fortuitous accident.
While Adam Jakus, a postdoctoral fellow in Professor Ramille Shah’s lab, was preparing 3D printing ink made from ovarian cells, he accidentally spilled some. Before he could wipe it up, the ink solidified, forming a sheet of dry material like paper.
“When I tried to pick it up, it felt strong,” said Jakus, who is now Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of Dimension Inx, LLC, a startup also co-founded by Shah. “I knew right then I could make large amounts of bioactive materials from other organs. The light bulb went on in my head. I could do this with other organs.”