Researchers at Northwestern University have identified and mapped the location of structural proteins within pig’s ovaries, which closely resemble human ovaries. This will help the development of an ovary-specific bio-ink that can be used to three-dimensionally (3-D) print artificial, implantable human ovaries that will allow infertile women to bear children. “This is a huge step forward for girls who undergo fertility-damaging cancer treatments,” Monica Laronda, PhD, the study’s senior author, said in a press release. “Our goal is to use the ovarian structural proteins to engineer a biological scaffold capable of supporting a bank of potential eggs and hormone producing cells. Once implanted, the artificial ovary would respond to natural cues for ovulation, enabling pregnancy,” she said. The study, “Proteomic analyses of decellularized porcine ovaries identified new matrisome proteins and spatial differences across and within ovarian compartments,” was published in the journal Scientific Reports. Cells of all tissues and organs are surrounded and supported by the extracellular matrix (ECM), a complex 3-D network of structural proteins and other molecules. This network provides not only a physical scaffold, but also several biochemical signals that regulate cell function.