Vaginal health: New tool to aid in testing of new therapies for bacterial vaginosis

When it comes to women’s health, you think of mental health, sexual health or physical health in general. However, you should not ignore vaginal health as you might face a lot of issues. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is one condition that is common in women when they are in the reproductive stage. As it is common, a lot of people search for bacterial vaginosis treatment online. There are ways to treat it, and now it has emerged that some scientists have also come up with an organ chip. It is believed to help in the development as well as testing of new therapies for bacterial vaginosis.

What is bacterial vaginosis?

It is a common vaginal condition that happens in women aged between 15 and 44 when there is a lot of certain bacteria in the vagina, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It leads to changes in the normal balance of bacteria in your vagina.

As per National Health Service (NHS), bacterial vaginosis is usually treated with antibiotic creams or tablets or gels that are prescribed by your doctor or sexual health clinic.

Bacterial vaginosis affects almost 30% of women who are in the reproductive stage. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Vaginal microbiome disruptions cause bacterial vaginosis

In the last 10 years, the human microbiome has been discussed often. Studies pointed to disrupted bacterial communities as the reasons behind ailments like eczema, autoimmune diseases and irritable bowel syndrome. A lot of studies have focused on the microbiome within the human gut, but it has also been found in the vagina. Vaginal microbiome disruptions cause bacterial vaginosis, which affects almost 30 per cent of women who are in the reproductive stage.

Bacterial vaginosis doubles the risk of many sexually transmitted infections, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Organ Chip for bacterial vaginosis

Even though it is treated with antibiotics, it often recurs and can lead to more severe complications including infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease. Researchers at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University have come up with a new Organ Chip. It replicates the human vaginal tissue microenvironment including its microbiome in vitro.

Aakanksha Gulati, Ph.D., a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Wyss Institute, said that her team’s project was to create a “human Vagina Chip to aid in the development and testing of new therapies for bacterial vaginosis.”

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A human Vagina Chip was created to aid in the development and testing of new therapies for bacterial vaginosis. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

After a healthy Vagina Chip was developed, the researchers worked on a new experiment in which they inoculated chips with different species of bacteria that were associated with bacterial vaginosis. They were Prevotella bivia, Atopobium vaginae and Gardnerella vaginalis.

Abidemi Junaid, Ph.D., a Research Scientist at the Wyss Institute, said that it was striking that the different microbial species produced “such opposite effects on the human vaginal cells,” and they were able not only observe, but also measure those effects easily using the Vagina Chip.

The scientist added that the success of these studies demonstrates that this model can be used to “test different combinations of microbes to help identify the best probiotic treatments for bacterial vaginosis and other conditions.”

The good news is that with this new experiment, it seems like women will soon be able to go beyond antibiotics for bacterial vaginosis.

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