An engineered honeycomb of cultured theca cells (top row) envelopes spheres of granulosa cells (GC). The bottom row shows the tissue after 48 hours (left) and after five days (Image: Carson Lab / Brown University)
We recently looked at a prototype implantable artificial kidney and now, in a move that could yield infertility treatments for cancer patients and provide a powerful new means for conducting fertility research, researchers have built an artificial human ovary that can grow oocytes into mature human eggs in the laboratory. The ovary not only provides a living laboratory for investigating fundamental questions about how healthy ovaries work, but also can act as a testbed for seeing how problems, such as exposure to toxins or other chemicals, can disrupt egg maturation and health. It could also allow immature eggs, salvaged and frozen from women facing cancer treatment, to be matured outside the patient in the artificial ovary.