Scientific American claimed on Wednesday that scientists at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute have developed the first “Vagina on a Chip” that accurately recreates the in vitro conditions of a human vagina. According to Harvard, it mimics the vagina’s physiology by being made of the vaginal epithelium and the connective tissue cells underneath it.
Investigating the state of women’s reproductive health
The best part is that it may be injected with several bacterial strains so that researchers can examine the impact of each on organ health. When it comes to vaginal health and illness, the vaginal microbiome is a crucial player, and it also has a significant effect on fetal health. The human vaginal chip is a promising strategy for advancing our understanding of host-microbiome interactions and developing probiotic therapies.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supported the development of the Vagina on a Chip to treat vaginal microbiota abnormalities due to bacterial vaginosis (BV). The group’s ultimate goal is to reduce BV-related reproductive tract infections, prenatal problems, and newborn mortality rates, especially in low-resource countries, by developing and testing a biotherapeutic therapy on humans.
Creation of the ChipThe microfluidic Organ Chip technology created at the Wyss Institute was used to create the chip, which replicated the architecture of the human vaginal wall by combining vaginal epithelial cells with terine fibroblast cells, all from humans.
In just five days, the cells in the Vagina on a Chip had differentiated to an extent that was comparable to human vaginal tissue. Scientists observed that when estradiol (a type of estrogen) was put into the Vagina Chip, gene expression patterns shifted.
They had built a functional replica of the female genital tract. This method was subsequently modified to permit research into the bacteria found in the vaginal microbiome. Researchers discovered that the L. crispatus bacteria did more than only keep the Vagina Chip acidic; they also altered the Vagina Chip’s innate immune responses. They also found that chips harboring bacterial consortia generated much less of a number of cytokine molecules known to contribute to inflammation.