Artificial vagina created to test drug reaction to gynaecological infections


The vagina replica is made from tissue derived from vaginal cells from two donors and is equipped with a silicon chip. — AFP

Scientists in the United States have replicated vaginal microbiome in a laboratory setting from living vaginal cells.

This novel tool is designed to help researchers better understand and manage gynaecological conditions, including bacterial infections of the vagina.

Replicating a vagina with real human cells in order to test drugs and treatments – that's the ingenious solution developed by scientists at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University.

Made from tissue derived from vaginal cells from two donors, the artificial vagina is equipped with a silicone chip designed to mimic as closely as possible the reaction of a real vagina to drugs administered to treat vaginal infections such as fungal infections or bacterial vaginosis, which affect nearly 30% of women each year worldwide.

"Just as probiotics are now being prescribed to treat gut issues, living biotherapeutics are being explored for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis.

"However, it is difficult to conduct preclinical trials because the human vaginal microbiome is dramatically different from that of common animal models," the researchers explain in a news release.

The tissue in the chip replicates many of the physiological characteristics of the vagina and the chip can be inoculated with different strains of bacteria to study their effects on the health of the body.

The different bacterial species introduced into the vaginal model allowed scientists to observe contrasting effects on human vaginal cells.

This is particularly true of Lactobacilli, bacteria that produce lactic acid and create an acidic environment inside the human vagina to protect it from infection.

When another type of bacteria, associated with vaginal infections, was grown on the chip without Lactobacilli, inflammation increased and the cells were quickly damaged, the researchers explain in the journal, Microbiome.

"This study demonstrates the potential of applying human organ chip technology to create a preclinical model of the human vaginal mucosa that can be used to better understand interactions between the vaginal microbiome and host tissues, as well as to evaluate the safety and efficacy of live biotherapeutics products," conclude the scientists.

The study's senior author, Dr Don Ingber, who is the Wyss Institute’s founding director, said: "We’re hopeful that this new preclinical model will drive the development of new treatments for bacterial vaginosis as well as new insight into female reproductive health." – AFP Relaxnews

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Vagina , Bacteria , Bacterial Vaginosis


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