The application of biomaterials and tissue engineering to reproductive biology provides an enabling technology underlying the development of the Oncofertility Consortium. A core is being developed for the translation of this technology.This proposed core has two major missions: i) research to further develop this enabling technology identify conditions for cryopreserving and maturing primate ovarian follicles, ii) service to provide materials and training to satellite locations for the maturation procedures. Previous work has demonstrated that the hydrogel alginate phenocopies the in vivo environment by maintaining follicular architecture while presenting a combination of diffusible, insoluble, and mechanical signals that combine to influence the development of the follicle. Ovarian follicles can be matured in vitro to yield high quality oocytes that can be fertilized and support live births with mice. The research objectives of this project are motivated by the need to develop hydrogels that i) support the growth of the large primate follicles that may have different requirements from mouse follicles, ii) maintain the follicle architecture and facilitate handling during cryopreservation, and iii) promote engraftment and survival of transplanted follicles following transplantation. The activities of this core are thus focused on four specific goals. Goal 1: Provide biomaterial support to the oncofertility consortium (R01A, R01B, R01C, P30A). Goal 2: Identify biomaterial properties and culture conditions that will maximize primate follicle growth, which will be translated to R01B and R01C. Goal 3: Develop novel biomaterials that can be used to minimize tissue cryoinjury for translation to R01A and P30B. Goal 4: Engineer drug-releasing hydrogels to optimize cortical strip transplants (R01B). An exciting team of investigators has been assembled towards translating novel technologies towards a significant clinical problem. Importantly, the generation of fertilizable oocytes and healthy embryos can immediately be translated clinically given the existing infrastructure for in vitro fertilization.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Linked Center Core Grant (PL1)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRR1-SRC (99))
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Zullo, Steven J
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Northwestern University at Chicago
Engineering (All Types)
Schools of Engineering
United States
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Lee, David M; Thomas, Carrie M; Xu, Fuhua et al. (2017) Subcutaneous ovarian tissue transplantation in nonhuman primates: duration of endocrine function and normalcy of subsequent offspring as demonstrated by reproductive competence, oocyte production, and telomere length. J Assist Reprod Genet 34:1427-1434
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