A series of human organs have been connected to form a working model of the female reproduction system. The tissues are cultured and connected on little plastic chips. Researchers can induce the system to get pregnant or have a period, creating a more complex, realistic system that makes it easier to test new medication and study diseases. Indeed, this system is one of a growing number of “organs-on-chips” that are recently being developed for medical studies.
Previously, preclinical studies just tested drugs on individual cells. Theses cells are missing a lot of what organs have: the environment, the tissue architecture, and the blood flow. Therefore, they don’t give the most accurate results on how drugs will affect an organ. Additionally, no animal has a reproductive cycle that is similar enough to a human’s to be a good model.
Now, a large team coordinated by Teresa Woodruff, a reproductive scientist at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, has solved this problem. They created a more accurate model of the reproductive system. The different organs are all miniaturized on plastic chips and connected like they are in the female body. The device is named Evatar, a combination of Eve and avatar. The menstrual cycle in Evatar is 28 days long, exactly like in humans.