Treating infertility with drug-delivering microspheres

For an embryo to survive, it must attach to the lining of the uterus within days of conception. However, if this lining, called the endometrium, is too thin, the embryo can’t latch on. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering have developed a new system intended to treat infertility in women with thin endometria. Their tiny, micro-scale particles stimulated blood vessel growth, producing promising results in preliminary experiments in cells and mice.

Poor blood flow within the endometrium limits its thickness, and researchers have struggled to find an effective way to encourage the formation of new blood vessels. Some have begun exploring the use of microspheres to deliver treatment. Researchers wanted to devise a simple, efficient technique for manufacturing uniform microspheres loaded with a compound known to be a potent stimulator of blood vessel growth.

By manipulating the composition of the spheres, the researchers found they could alter their ability to take up and release drugs. They then loaded the particles up with their second active ingredient: the blood vessel-promoting compound called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). In experiments with female mice with thin endometria, they found that microspheres containing VEGF generated the most thickening. While promising, this system needs further safety testing, note the researchers.

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