Scientists at Northwestern have built a robot with its own menstrual cycle

evatar robot menstrual cycle 1
A robot with a menstrual cycle sounds like something out of Donna Haraway’s cyborg feminist manifesto.

In fact, it’s a new research project coming out of Northwestern University, where scientists recreated a female reproductive system in a box. Called Evatar, it goes one step further than the previous “organ on a chip” concepts used to test specific organ responses to certain drugs by creating an entire bodily system. That includes living tissues from a mouse ovary, as well as those from a human uterus, cervix, vagina, fallopian tubes, and liver — all of which communicate with one another using a state-of-the-art microfluidic platform.

“This system runs for a period of 28 days, which is the length of a woman’s menstrual cycle,” Julie Kim, Susy Y. Hung Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern, told Digital Trends. “The ovary provides human menstrual cycle level hormones — 14 days of estrogen, ovulation and 14 days of progesterone — that then stimulates the fallopian tube, uterus, cervix and liver. This is the world’s first multi-organ system in a dish that remains functional for a full menstrual cycle.”

Compared with the male-centric drug testing of previous decades, Evatar is designed to give scientists a better understanding of the way in which various medicines and/or toxins affect women. This means testing aspects of drugs which may not affect men, such as whether they will affect ovarian function.

As Kim noted, “There are well-established sex differences of drug responses that are usually not known until women take the drug and experience adverse effects.”

Right now, the project has reached the end of its first phase. Next up, the team wants to work on incorporating models of diseases that affect the female reproductive tract, such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and cancer.

“As I was responsible for the uterus portion of Evatar, I would like to add other important components of the lining of the uterus such as blood vessels and immune cells that work in concert with the cell types currently in our system,” Kim said. “This would allow us to potentially study complex processes such as menstruation and test compounds for disorders including heavy uterine bleeding that affect women. Also, we are interested in generating specific cells of the reproductive tract from stem cells in order to provide a system that is more personalized.”

And men shouldn’t get too worried, either, as a male version of Evatar — called Adatar — is also on the way. consisting of cells from the male reproductive tract.

“So lots more to do,” Kim said.


From Jay Rock to Saba, these are the 50 best albums of 2018

We've spent the year listening to new albums, digging deep, and culling our master list into 50 favorites. From blockbuster releases to hidden gems, these are the best albums of 2018.
Emerging Tech

MIT’s smart capsule could be used to release drugs in response to a fever

Researchers have developed a 3D-printed capsule which can monitor patients' vital signs, transmit this information to a connected device, and release drugs in response to symptoms.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Killing Eve'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Bright ‘hyperactive’ comet should be visible in the sky this weekend

An unusual green comet, 46P/Wirtanen, will be visible in the night sky this month as it makes its closest approach to Earth in 20 years. It may even be possible to see the comet without a telescope.
Emerging Tech

Meet the MIT scientist who’s growing semi-sentient cyborg houseplants

Elowan is a cybernetic plant that can respond to its surroundings. Tethered by a few wires and silver electrodes, the plant-robot hybrid can move in response to bioelectrochemical signals that reflect the plant’s light demands.
Emerging Tech

Gorgeous images show storms and cloud formations in the atmosphere of Jupiter

NASA's Juno mission arrived at Jupiter in 2016 and has been collecting data since then. NASA has shared an update on the progress of the mission as it reaches its halfway point, releasing stunning images of the planet as seen from orbit.
Emerging Tech

Beautiful image of young planets sheds new light on planet formation

Researchers examining protoplanetary disks -- the belts of dust that eventually form planets -- have shared fascinating images of the planets from their survey, showing the various stages of planet formation.
Emerging Tech

Delivery robot goes up in flames while out and about in California

A small meal-delivery robot suddenly caught fire in Berkeley, California, on Friday. The blaze was quickly tackled and no one was hurt, but the incident is nevertheless a troubling one for the fledgling robot delivery industry.
Emerging Tech

High-tech dancing robot turns out to be a guy in a costume

A Russian TV audience was impressed recently by an adult-sized "robot" that could dance and talk. But when some people began pointing out that its actions were a bit odd, the truth emerged ... it was a fella in a robot suit.
Emerging Tech

‘Crop duster’ robot is helping reseed the Great Barrier Reef with coral

In a world first, an undersea robot has delivered microscopic coral larvae to the Great Barrier Reef. Meet Larvalbot: the robot "crop duster" which dispenses coral babies on troubled reefs.
Emerging Tech

Self-driving dirt rally vehicle offers crash course in autonomous car safety

Georgia Tech's AutoRally initiative pushes self-driving cars to their limit by getting scaled-down autonomous vehicles to drive really, really fast and aggressively on dirt roads. Here's why.

Cities looking to get smart take a lesson from an iconic shopping mall

From Disney World to the Mall of America, public venues are becoming microcosms for smart city projects. We dove into both, to show what government officials can learn – and what you can expect from your city.