The world’s first ‘menstrual cycle on a chip’ could change the future of research into gynecological problems, scientists claim.
The cube-shaped device, called Evatar, is a palm-sized recreation of the female reproductive tract.
It is made with human tissue cultured from stem cells and contains 3D models of ovaries, fallopian tubes, womb, cervix and vagina, as well as the liver.
The creation of the novel tool marks the first time scientists have been able to mimic the interplay between tissues and hormones.
Researchers plan to use the device to investigate conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids, reproductive organ cancers and infertility.
Dr Teresa Woodruff, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, where the device was created, said: ‘This is nothing short of a revolutionary technology.
‘If I had your stem cells and created a heart, liver, lung and an ovary, I could test 10 different drugs at 10 different doses on you and say, “Here’s the drug that will help your Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or diabetes”.
‘This will help us develop individualized treatments and see how females may metabolize drugs differently from males.’
The landmark study shows how the 28-day menstrual cycle can be mimicked using ‘organ on a chip’ technology.
The researchers used human stem cells to culture a combination of tissues of the ovary, fallopian tube, womb, cervix and liver in the device for four weeks.
Each ‘organ’ occupies its own brown cube and a special fluid pumps through each pea-sized organ to perform the function of blood.
The organs are able to communicate with each other via secreted substances, including hormones such as estrogen, to closely resemble how they all work together in the body.
The project is part of a larger effort by the US National Institutes of Health to create a ‘body on a chip’.
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