Northwestern Medicine creates miniature female reproductive tract

Mariana Alfaro, Print Managing Editor

Northwestern researchers have created a miniature model of the female reproductive system, which they hope will change the future of research and treatment of diseases that affect women.

The model, called EVATAR, is made out of human tissue and is small enough to fit in a human palm, according to a University news release. It will let students conduct testing for new drugs for “safety and effectiveness on the female reproductive system,” the release said.

According to the release, “the ultimate goal is to use stem cells of an individual patient and create a personalized model of their reproductive system.”

EVATAR contains 3-D models of ovaries, fallopian tubes, the uterus, cervix, vagina and liver with a “special fluid” that pumps through the system, performing the function of blood, according to the release.

Lead investigator Teresa Woodruff said in the release that the system will help doctors create individualized treatments “and see how females may metabolize drugs differently from males.”

“If I had your stem cells and created a heart, liver, lung and an ovary, I could test 10 different drugs at 10 different doses on you and say, ‘Here’s the drug that will help your Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or diabetes,’” Woodruff said in the release. “It’s the ultimate personalized medicine, a model of your body for testing drugs.”

Woodruff, director of the Women’s Health Research Institute at the Feinberg School of Medicine, collaborated in the project with other NU scientists and scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Draper Laboratory, Inc.

According to the release, the model will also allow scientists to “test millions of compounds in the environment and new pharmaceuticals to understand how they affect the reproductive system and many other organs in the body.”

“This technology will help us look at drug testing and drug discovery in a brand new way,” Woodruff said in the release.

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