Next generation strategies for preventing preterm birth

Hannah C. Zierden, Rachel L. Shapiro, Kevin DeLong, Davell M. Carter, Laura M. Ensign

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Preterm birth (PTB) is defined as delivery before 37 weeks of gestation. Globally, 15 million infants are born prematurely, putting these children at an increased risk of mortality and lifelong health challenges. Currently in the U.S., there is only one FDA approved therapy for the prevention of preterm birth. Makena is an intramuscular progestin injection given to women who have experienced a premature delivery in the past. Recently, however, Makena failed a confirmatory trial, resulting the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research's (CDER) recommendation for the FDA to withdrawal Makena's approval. This recommendation would leave clinicians with no therapeutic options for preventing PTB. Here, we outline recent interdisciplinary efforts involving physicians, pharmacologists, biologists, chemists, and engineers to understand risk factors associated with PTB, to define mechanisms that contribute to PTB, and to develop next generation therapies for preventing PTB. These advances have the potential to better identify women at risk for PTB, prevent the onset of premature labor, and, ultimately, save infant lives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-209
Number of pages20
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Drug delivery
  • Nanomedicine
  • Nanoparticles
  • Pregnancy
  • Preterm birth
  • Vaginal drug delivery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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