Chemo- and radiation therapies used to treat cancer can have the unintended effect of making patients infertile. Clinically established fertility preservation methods, such as egg and embryo cryopreservation, are not applicable to all patients, which has motivated the development of strategies that involve ovarian tissue removal and cryopreservation before the first sterilizing treatment. To restore fertility at a later date, the early-stage follicles present in the tissue must be matured to produce functional oocytes, a process that is not possible using existing cell culture technologies. This review describes the application of tissue engineering principles to promote ovarian follicle maturation and produce mature oocytes through either in vitro culture or transplantation. The design principles for these engineered systems are presented, along with identification of emerging opportunities in reproductive biology.


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