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Vagina On A Chip: A Breakthrough For Bacterial Vaginosis Research

Date: 12.12.2022 

Researchers have developed a new technology called the Vagina Chip that will help scientists develop new therapeutic tools.

Kredit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University.If you possess a vagina, you may have encountered the uncomfortable condition known as bacterial vaginosis (BV). This occurs when the microbiome of the vagina is disrupted and is the most common vaginal condition between the ages of 15-44.

This disease increases the risk of sexually transmitted infections and the risk of pre-term birth in pregnancy. Fortunately, at the moment, it can be treated with antibiotics – but reoccurrence can happen and leads to severe complications.

There are many bacteria that occupy the vagina, and not all of them are bad. In fact, Lactobacillus species reside in the organ and comprise 70 percent of healthy human vaginal microbiomes. Any disruption of the microbiome can cause disease.

Unfortunately, this area of research is very understudied. This is mainly due to the fact that no preclinical models have been able to replicate the vaginal epithelial microenvironment, as the human vaginal microbiome is a lot different than other common animal models. This lack of preclinical models is essential for experimentation and therapy development.

“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. Researchers at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University have developed and created an in vitro model that features the functional vaginal epithelium: the Vagina Chip, a type of organ chip.

Image source: Wyss Institute at Harvard University.





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