ChemBE Seminar Series Presents – Dr. Laura Ensign (JHU) “Nanomedicine for Preterm Birth”
Preterm birth (PTB) is a significant global problem, but the etiology is poorly understood, and thus, few therapeutic options exist. Here, I describe the application of nanomedicine to various problems in PTB, from developing formulations for more effective drug delivery to probing novel mechanisms for prevention. I further discuss adaptation of mouse models of PTB for utility in comparing relative effectiveness of therapeutics. I focus on the vaginal route of drug administration, which can utilize the uterine first-pass effect to target the upper reproductive tract. I give one specific example of a mucoinert vaginal progesterone formulation that provided increased efficacy in prevention of PTB with decreased local toxicity. Formulations designed to achieve increased vaginal absorption with improved biocompatibility could be more effective for PTB prevention.
Bio: Laura M. Ensign, Ph.D., is the Marcella E. Woll Professor of Ophthalmology, and the Vice Chair for Research in the Wilmer Eye Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology with secondary appointments in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, Gynecology & Obstetrics, Infectious Diseases, and Oncology. Dr. Ensign’s research focuses on the principle of characterizing biological barriers in health and disease in order to design more efficacious formulations for prophylactic and therapeutic drug delivery. Here, Dr. Ensign will focus on recent work in her group towards applying nanomedicine to an understudied area in therapeutic delivery, pregnancy and preterm birth.