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The overarching objective of this project is to develop the lower female reproductive tract within an organ-on-a-chip system. This will create an in-vitro micro vaginal tissue that can mimic the in-vivo organ. The tissue will incorporate structures seen in the vaginal wall, including a stratified squamous epithelium with microvilli, tight junctions, micro folds and mucus.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in women of reproductive age. It has been shown to affect up to 50% of the female population in the developing world and up to 33% of women in the developed world. At present there is no curative treatment and recurrent infection is the norm. It is thought to contribute to miscarriage, premature delivery of babies and pelvic inflammatory disease. It increases the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), by two times. It is a disease that is poorly understood and no new therapeutics have been developed in the past 20 years that have shown any alteration in cure rates of BV.

Current work has shown preliminary results using the Vk2/E6E7 cell line grown on electrospun membranes. Additive manufacturing and soft lithography have been used to produce multilayer microfluidic devices.

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr. Ruth Mackay
Dr. Ruth Mackay - Dr Mackay is a Mechanical Engineer with a particular interest within the biomedical field.  She gained her undergraduate degree from the University of Dundee in 2007 in Mechnical Engineering.  This was followed by a her PhD Micro-electromechanical-systems in 2011, also at the University of Dundee, funded by a CASE grant from the EPSRC with IDB Technologies.  She moved to Brunel in 2011 to work as a Research Fellow on a tanslational MRC grant developing point of care devices.  She became a lecturer at Brunel in 2015. Her research focuses on organ-on-a-chip tecnologies for women's health, low cost point of care diagnostic devices and prosthetics. She teaches within the areas of Finite Element Analysis and Medical Device Engineering.

Related Research Group(s)


Organ-on-a-Chip - The group’s main research focus is on women’s health and developing four main organ-on-a-chip (OOC) models: the breast, vagina, ovary, and placenta.

Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 21/11/2023