Nanomedicine for Women’s Health

Local, sustained drug delivery has the potential to improve the treatment and prevention of many conditions and diseases that afflict the female reproductive tract. However, achieving effective, therapeutic delivery in the vaginal tract is challenging due to vaginal physiology. To overcome these issues, we are developing nanomedicines and novel delivery vehicles that can provide sustained release (improving effectiveness) and deliver drugs uniformly to the target surface. Improved local vaginal delivery has promise for preventing preterm birth and sexually transmitted infections, as well as treating bacterial vaginosis and cervical cancer. Local delivery could not only improve the effectiveness of cancer treatment, but also dramatically improve patient quality of life by reducing the side effects associated with systemic chemotherapy. We also use our nanotechnologies to gain fundamental understanding of the factors that lead to infections in the female reproductive tract. We hope to not only gain a fundamental understanding of infection, but also aid the development of strategies for preventing infections.


Areas of focus:

  • Cervical and ovarian cancers
  • HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections
  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Preterm birth
  • Contraception


Selected Publications

Ensign LM, Tang BC, Wang Y-Y, Tse TA, Hoen T, Cone R, Hanes J. (2012) Mucus-penetrating particles for vaginal drug delivery protect against HSV-2, Sci Transl Med, 4: 138ra79.

Yang M, Yu T, Wang YY, Lai SK, Zeng Qi, Miao B, Tang BC, Simons B, Ensign L, Liu G, Chan K, Juang C, Mert O, Wood J, Fu J, McMahon M, Wu TC, Hung CF, Hanes J. (2013) Vaginal delivery of paclitaxel via nanoparticles with non-mucoadhesive surfaces suppresses cervical tumor growth. Adv Healthc Mater, 3(7):1044-52.

Mishra M, Kotta K, Hali M, Wykes S, Benchaala I, Gerard H, Hudson A, Whittum-Hudson J, Kannan RM. (2011) PAMAM dendrimer-azithromycin conjugate nanodevices for the treatment of Chlamydia trachomatis Infections, Nanomedicine:NBM, 7(6): 935-944.

Ensign LM, Hoen T, Maisel K, Cone R, Hanes J. (2013) Enhanced vaginal drug delivery through the use of hypotonic formulations that induce fluid uptake, Biomaterials, 34(28):6922-9.