Uterine-Targeted Liposomes for Preterm Labor Management


Background  Preterm birth is the leading cause of death among children, accounting for 18% of all deaths among children aged under 5 years and as much as 35% of all deaths among newborns. Preterm birth due to preterm labor is a challenging concern for the practicing obstetrician and few drugs have been proven to be effective in the treatment of preterm labor. Unfortunately, tocolytic modalities that have shown to be effective are often limited in their use due to associated toxicities to the fetus. Innovative solutions for preterm labor management are in high demand.

Discovery/Highlights  Investigators from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), in collaboration with Houston Methodist Hospital (HMH), have developed a novel technology comprised of a delivery system for a tocolytic drug (indomethacin) targeted to the site of action (maternal uterus) to enhance the drug efficacy and prevent fetal toxicities. Meanwhile, Australian researchers from the University of Newcastle have developed a novel way to deliver drugs that relax muscles directly to the uterus using targeted nanoparticles for premature labor prevention. Both invention portfolios focus on the development of uterus-targeted nanoparticles to ensure the drugs are delivered to the desired sites of action, thereby minimizing or eliminating off-target effects.  

Clinical impact If the biodistribution of indomethacin (IND) could be restricted to the maternal compartment, specifically to the uterine myometrium, and not affect the fetus, then prolonged administration of IND could be effective in the treatment of preterm labor and positively impact neonatal morbidity associated with preterm birth. One in four women is hospitalized for preterm labor during pregnancy. Preterm birth represents 50% of all infant hospital costs per year. According to the March of Dimes, in the US a premature baby spends an average of 25.4 days in a specialty care nursery at an average cost of $144,692.
Stage of Development  Pre-clinical
Intellectual Property Status   
Licensing Availability  All of the above-listed patents are available for licensing worldwide under the joint commercialization agreement between UTHealth & HMH, combined with the IP developed by the University of Newcastle.

UTHealth Ref. No.  2015-0035

Inventors  Dr. Jerrie S. Refuerzo, Dr. Biana Godin, Dr. Monica Longo

Associated Publications  Sci Rep. 2016 Oct 11; 6:34710. DOI: 10.1038/srep34710

Patent Information:

The preceding is intended to be a non-confidential and limited description of a novel technology created at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). This promotional material is not comprehensive in scope and should not replace company’s diligence in a thorough evaluation of the technology. Please contact the Office of Technology Management for more information regarding this technology.
For Information, Contact:
Xiaoyan Wang
Technology Commercialization Analyst
University of Texas Health Science Center At Houston
Jerrie S Refuerzo
Monica Longo
Biana Godin-Vilentchouk
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