In this file:
· 3D-printed ovaries allow infertile mice to give birth
Researchers at Northwestern University have successfully gotten mice to give birth with 3D-printed ovaries, according to a new study published in Nature Communications…
· Beyond just promise, CRISPR is delivering in the lab today
… CRISPR is already showing health applications beyond editing the DNA in our cells…
3D-printed ovaries allow infertile mice to give birth
by Joseph Scalise, Science Recorder
May 18, 2017
Researchers at Northwestern University have successfully gotten mice to give birth with 3D-printed ovaries, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.
Fertility has become a major target for regenerative medicine in the past few years, and many believe the technology could help women who are otherwise unable to have children.
To test this, researchers first removed the ovaries from a group of mice. They then preserved the ovarian tissue and isolated the hormone-producing cells that support immature eggs. Using a 3D printer, the team next printed the basic structure of the ovary and dosed it with cultured ovarian follicles. Those were then transplanted back into the mice, where their egg cells began to grow. Not only did the transplant go well, but the mice ovulated normally, mated, and gave birth to healthy offspring.
This is not the first time researchers have successfully replaced ovaries in mice. However, this study is unique because the team conducted the process with gelatin, a biomaterial that makes up most soft tissue. That change allowed them to create self-supporting structures that were rigid enough to stand up to surgery, but also porous enough to work with the mouse’s body tissues.
This research shows these bioprosthetic ovaries have long-term, durable function; said study co-author Teresa K. Woodruff, a reproductive scientist, and director of the Women's Health Research Institute at Northwestern University, in a statement. "Using bioengineering, instead of transplanting from a cadaver, to create organ structures that function and restore the health of that tissue for that person is the holy grail of bioengineering for regenerative medicine."
"The process is important because the team wants to not only help women get pregnant, they want to restore the entire endocrine system as well. This could help patients with diseases such as cancer have normal hormone function throughout all stages of their life.
Now that the tests have worked in mice, the team plans to figure out how to translate the process to humans. Human ovaries are much bigger and a lot more complicated than those of mice, so the next step is to test on pigs…
Beyond just promise, CRISPR is delivering in the lab today
Ian Haydon, University of Washington
via San Francisco Chronicle - May 17, 2017
(THE CONVERSATION) There’s a revolution happening in biology, and its name is CRISPR.
CRISPR (pronounced “crisper”) is a powerful technique for editing DNA. It has received an enormous amount of attention in the scientific and popular press, largely based on the promise of what this powerful gene editing technology will someday do.
CRISPR was Science magazine’s 2015 Breakthrough of the Year; it’s been featured prominently in the New Yorker morethanonce; and The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Jennifer Lopez will be the executive producer on an upcoming CRISPR-themed NBC bio-crime drama. Not bad for a molecular biology laboratory technique.
CRISPR is not the first molecular tool designed to edit DNA, but it gained its fame because it solves some longstanding problems in the field. First, it is highly specific. When properly set up, the molecular scissors that make up the CRISPR system will snip target DNA only where you want them to. It is also incredibly cheap. Unlike previous gene editing systems which could cost thousands of dollars, a relative novice can purchase a CRISPR toolkit for less than US$50.
Research labs around the world are in the process of turning the hype surrounding the CRISPR technique into real results. Addgene, a nonprofit supplier of scientific reagents, has shipped tens of thousands of CRISPR toolkits to researchers in more than 80 countries, and the scientific literature is now packed with thousands of CRISPR-related publications.
When you give scientists access to powerful tools, they can produce some pretty amazing results.
The most promising (and obvious) applications of gene editing are in medicine. As we learn more about the molecular underpinnings of various diseases, stunning progress has been made in correcting genetic diseases in the laboratory just over the past few years.
Take, for example, muscular dystrophy – a complex and devastating family of diseases characterized by the breakdown of a molecular component of muscle called dystrophin. For some types of muscular dystrophy, the cause of the breakdown is understood at the DNA level.
In 2014, researchers at the University of Texas showed that CRISPR could correct mutations associated with muscular dystrophy in isolated fertilized mouse eggs which, after being reimplanted, then grew into healthy mice. By February of this year, a team here at the University of Washington published results of a CRISPR-based gene replacement therapy which largely repaired the effects of Duchenne muscular dystrophy in adult mice. These mice showed significantly improved muscle strength – approaching normal levels – four months after receiving treatment.
Using CRISPR to correct disease-causing genetic mutations is certainly not a panacea. For starters, many diseases have causes outside the letters of our DNA. And even for diseases that are genetically encoded, making sense of the six billion DNA letters that comprise the human genome is no small task. But here CRISPR is again advancing science; by adding or removing new mutations – or even turning whole genes on or off – scientists are beginning to probe the basic code of life like never before.
CRISPR is already showing health applications beyond editing the DNA in our cells. A large team out of Harvard and MIT just debuted a CRISPR-based technology that enables...