A major breakthrough in the study of human female reproductive cycle was unveiled on 28th March under the name EVATAR by the scientists of Northwestern University in the journal Nature Communications . The name Evatar is a portmanteau of Eve and Avatar, which can be taken to mean incarnation of the female. And the invention truly is.
As real as it may get, Evatar , which works in conjunction with all the organs associated with female reproduction, is a 3-D model of human tissues, viz. the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus , cervix, vagina and the liver, generated from the stem cells of individuals. Each tissue type is placed in a separate plastic chamber on a box of the size of a bento box, with a special type of fluid, serving the purpose of blood, flowing through cables and pipes and connecting these chambers. . It can mimic the complete 28 day reproductive cycle of the female body. The lead scientist, Teresa Woodruff says, “An avatar is kind of a digital representation of an individual in a virtual environment, so when we thought about this synthetic version of the female reproductive tract we thought of the word EVATAR.” Teresa Woodruff is a biomedical engineer in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University
The invention would help throw some deep insight into the study of ailments and diseases specific to the female reproductive system. As scientists say, it can help understand women health issues like endometriosis (where tissue that normally grows inside the uterus ,endometrium, grows outside it), infertility (inability to reproduce), miscarriages (loss of pregnancy in the first 20 weeks), gynecological cancer (like fibroid that are tumors inside the uterus), etc. better. Prior, drugs and compounds were tested mostly on animals and human models, and the results were applied generally to the entire race. However, certain people reacted differently to these drugs, especially where different sexes were involved. Evatar would aid researchers and doctors to develop individual specific models and test treatments and compounds to find the most suitable one. “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,’” to quote Woodruff. “It’s the ultimate personalized medicine, a model of your body for testing drugs.”
The project is a part of create-body-on-a-chip technology in the field of microfluidics and seems promising. One can hope of further development of the same in the near future with positive results. As for now, having being able to study the human organs on a plate the size of the palm is a pretty good start.
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