Congratulations to Paul Wieringa who received a prestigious ERC Starting grant for his research proposal "OviChip: Development of an Oviduct-on-a-Chip model".
Despite being viewed as a simple transport conduit, the oviduct can determine a successful pregnancy and has a life-long impact on our health and wellbeing. Also called the fallopian tube, our understanding of tubal function remains limited, owing to the ethical limitations of human studies and the poor translations of animal studies to people. The objective of the OviChip project is to create the first full-scale 3D in vitro model of the oviduct that can address our knowledge gap, thereby improving embryo viability and IVF outcomes or to avoid IVF by addressing tubal pathologies.
The OviChip project will develop biofabrication technologies to create a 3D model that respects the structural and biological elements of the oviduct from a meso to micron scale. The anticipated outcomes include: 1) the validation of new biofabrication approaches; 2) a better understanding of Chlamydia-associated tubal pathologies; 3) insight into the oviduct microenvironment with respect to sperm selection and epigenetic factors affecting embryogenesis. The OviChip will strive for unprecedented biomimicry and functional readout, setting new standards for tissue engineering. Most importantly, this will provide a unique avenue to fundamental answers that impact patients.