- Dr. Don Ingber makes organs for a living. Using flexible pieces of silicone carved with tiny channels, he grows tissues that can mimic the complex physical interactions between cells and fluids, creating malleable, three-dimensional models of organs.
- Over the past decade, Dr. Ingber, a bioengineer at Harvard, has made more than 15 of these organ chips, including those simulating lungs, livers, intestines and skin. And now, as described in a paper published last month, he has added a far less studied organ to the list: the vagina.
- The “vagina on a chip” was made from vaginal cells donated by two women. The model was grown inside of silicone rubber chips the size of a stick of gum, forming channels that were responsive to fluctuating estrogen levels and bacteria.
- The chip successfully mimicked key features of the vaginal microbiome, the swarming communities of bacteria that play a crucial role in the organ’s health, the study found.
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