Studying vaginal health
Best of all, it can be inoculated with different strains of bacteria allowing researchers to study their effects on the organ’s health.
“The vaginal microbiome plays an important role in regulating vaginal health and disease, and has a major impact on prenatal health. Our human Vagina Chip offers an attractive solution to study host-microbiome interactions and accelerate the development of potential probiotic treatments,” said first author Gautam Mahajan, Ph.D., a former Wyss Institute researcher who now works at Emulate, Inc.
The Vagina on a Chip was developed with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to treat vaginal microbiome disruptions caused by bacterial vaginosis (BV).
The organization hopes to create a biotherapeutic treatment for BV and move it into human clinical trials to decrease its many negative side effects, such as infections of the reproductive tract, prenatal complications, and infant death rates, particularly in low-resource nations.
BV is currently treated with antibiotics, but it often recurs and can lead to more serious complications, including pelvic inflammatory disease and even infertility.
“A major stumbling block for that effort was that there were no good preclinical models that could be used to study which therapies can actually treat BV in human tissues. Our team’s project was to create a human Vagina Chip to aid in the development and testing of new therapies for BV,” said co-author Aakanksha Gulati, Ph.D., a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Wyss Institute.