Smart materials to treat uterine fibroids
For young women, uterine fibroids can be a source of disabling pain, anemia and infertility. They affect an estimated 70 percent of U.S. women, and are both more widespread and more severe among African-American women. Hysterectomy with early menopause is often the only option doctors can offer. Darlene Taylor and Phyllis Leppert are exploring a nanotechnology solution. Leppert’s research has shown that these tumors involve an excess secretion of collagen. Collagenase is an enzyme that dissolves collagen, but there is now no way to effectively deliver it to a tumor. Taylor has developed a remarkable four-component material that they hope can meet the challenge. Her nanocarrier system goes into solution at room temperature, creates a solid gel phase to encapsulate the drug when introduced to the body, and can decay over time for controlled release.