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24 January 2019

Joint patent for treatment of gynaecological infections

A patent describing the use of ‘microbiota replacement therapy' was filed as a joint venture between King's and University College London’s (UCL) Institute of Child Health last month.

Image of gynaecological infections
gynaecological infections

Vaginal infections such as bacterial vaginosis (BV) or Group B streptococcal infection are very common in women of reproductive age worldwide, with around 8 million women in the UK alone possibly experiencing symptoms at any one time. It is also associated with significant adverse consequences including an increased risk of late miscarriage or preterm birth and a greater chance of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV.

The exact circumstances that lead to infection is still unknown in most instances, but alterations in bacteria that usually live in the vagina and control the growth of other microbes (such as yeast) appears to be a contributing factor.

Traditional treatments have classically centered on prescription-only antibiotics, but antibiotics are only a temporary treatment and a significant proportion of women suffer relapses and recurrences of infection.

Professor Paul Long from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (IPS) within the School of Cancer & Pharmaceutical Sciences at King’s and Professor Alastair Sutcliffe from UCL Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital of Sick Children are co-inventors of a new pessary formulation developed that encourages regrowth of bacteria that usually live in the vagina.

Gynecological infections are notoriously difficult to treat using antibiotics, encouraging regrowth of a woman's own 'friendly' bacteria offers a paradigm shift away from using antibiotics and at a time of increasing bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

Co-inventor Professor Paul Long

Plans for a 50-patient clinical trial are well underway, with patient recruitment expected to begin in spring.

Undergraduate and PGT students in IPS have also had the opportunity to carry out their degree projects as part of this research, allowing our students to gain clinical and formulation science experiences at UCLH, the Royal Free Hospital and UCL School of Pharmacy.