March 28 (UPI) — Researchers at Northwestern University created a synthetic version of the female reproductive system that can be used to test drug therapies.
The system is shaped like a cube and consists of a series of small tubes, each containing cells from a different part of the female reproductive system, including the uterus, cervix, vagina, fallopian tubes and liver.
The system is called Evatar, like avatar but with an E for Eve, because it reproduces the female reproductive tract and mimics the hormones of the full-size reproductive system.
The tiny tubes pump fluid that acts like blood to feed the various cells and help the mini-organs communicate with each other.
The Evatar, detailed in the journal Nature Communications, is capable of operating and keeping cells alive for a 28-day menstrual cycle. Evatar is one of the first complete human system that works inside a Petri dish, and scientists say it will allow them to study female reproductive conditions such as endometriosis or fibroid tumors.
“This is nothing short of a revolutionary technology,” said Teresa Woodruff, a professor at Northwestern University and lead researcher of the study, because it may allow doctors or scientists to study an individual person’s metabolism and tailor drug treatments to their specific condition — let alone to more specifically design experiments and trials.
The researchers say the next step in the research is to determine how much longer the cells can live and work on a male version called the DudeCube, which reproduces the penis and testes.