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The biofabrication of a 3D in vitro human oviduct model to study infertility and factors affecting embryo development


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. The oviduct selects healthy sperm and hosts the first embryonic cell divisions, setting the stage for fetal development and health in our adult life. Epigenetic factors can trigger genetic defects in these first moments that lead to unsuccessful pregnancies or ailments such as Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, and schizophrenia. When oviduct function is compromised, such as through a Chlamydia Trachomatis infection, infertility can arise. A common recourse for prospective parents is in vitro fertilization (IVF). However, IVF success rates have plateaued at 30% for the past decade and concerns have emerged about the epigenetic impact IVF has on a child’s health. Therefore, to improve embryo viability and IVF outcomes or to avoid IVF by addressing tubal pathologies, our knowledge gap about oviduct function must be addressed. 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.


Net EU contribution
€ 2 318 530,00
Minderbroedersberg 4
6200 MD Maastricht

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Limburg (NL) Zuid-Limburg
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00