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Engineering an immuno-isolating hydrogel for restoring ovarian endocrine function

Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) is a significant complication of cytotoxic treatments due to extreme ovarian sensitivity to chemotherapy and radiation. Currently available treatment for POI is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which delivers unregulated, non-physiological levels of estrogen that interferes with growth in peripubertal girls, and predisposes them to cancer and thrombotic events. Implantation of donor ovarian tissue that responds to the circulating gonadotropins and secrets steroid hormones in response fills the existing gap, especially for the girls undergoing puberty. We designed a novel immuno-isolation device that protects the implanted tissue from rejection, allows diffusion of nutrients, oxygen and hormones, and accommodates structural and functional changes of growing follicles.

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