Lab-Engineered Ovaries Superior to Hormone Drugs in Animal Model


Source: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center

Summary: A new research found that the engineered ovaries are more effective than the hormone therapy drugs which helps to improve bone and uterine health and body composition.


The current hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medications may compensate for the loss of female sex hormone production but cannot be recommended for long-term use do the increased risk of heart disease and breast cancer. Researchers from the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center of Regenerative Medicine found that the engineered ovaries are more effective than the hormone therapy drugs which helps to improve bone and uterine health and body composition. They also suggested that bioengineered artificial ovaries are more safer and provide a natural HRT for women. This cell-based system of hormone replacement is an attractive alternative to drugs because of its ability to match the dose with body’s needs. The study findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.

engineered ovaries are more effective than the hormone therapy drugs

Schematic diagram of a native ovarian follicle (a) compared to the bioengineered ovarian construct (b). 3D-confocal images of a bioengineered ovarian construct (c). Credit: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center/Nature Communications

To engineer the bio-artificial ovary, the team isolated two different cell types in ovaries – theca and granulosa from ovaries. A thin membrane was used as a capsule to contain the cells and then implanted in the rats, who had their ovaries were removed. These rats were compared with animals of normal ovarian function and looked at 3 areas commonly affected by the loss of ovary function – body composition, bone health and uterine health. Its already known that loss of ovarian function leads to accumulation of fat, weight gain, adverse effects on the genital and urinary system which includes sexual dysfunction and urinary incontinence. Estrogen deficiency can also lead to osteoporosis and related fractures. This research may be very helpful to treat the conditions associated with loss of ovary function.

Prof. Emmanuel C. Opara said, “The treatment is designed to secrete hormones in a natural way based on the body’s needs, rather than the patient taking a specific dose of drugs each day” and further added “This study highlights the potential utility of cell-based hormone therapy for the treatment of conditions associated with the loss of ovarian function.”


More Information: Sivanandane Sittadjody et al, “In vivo transplantation of 3D encapsulated ovarian constructs in rats corrects abnormalities of ovarian failure”, Nature Communications (2017). nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/s41467-017-01851-3


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