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Development of hydrogel based intravaginal drug delivery device

Adolescent girls and young women are disproportionately affected by HIV in sub-Saharan Africa where they are up to 3 times more likely to be infected compared to their male counterparts. A major biological mechanism driving this increased risk is subclinical genital inflammation due to the presence of “non-optimal” vaginal microbiota depleted of beneficial lactobacillus species. 

We have discovered that a bioactive product made by optimal vaginal microbiota could be used to treat or prevent bacterial vaginosis, which is the most common manifestation of a non-optimal vaginal microbiotia.  However, new methods are needed to deliver this product in a sustained way in the vagina to maximise treatment adherence and efficacy.

This study aims to develop an intravaginal ring to deliver factors that can ultimately enhance the vaginal environment and microbiota to treat and prevent bacterial vaginosis to prevent STIs, including HIV as well as adverse reproductive health outcomes.

Until 2023

A range of novel hydrogel materials are being investigated for their ability to load and release physiological concentrations of the bioactive product. The physical (mechanical and structural) properties of the product loaded hydrogel are being characterised. The biocompatibility of these hydrogel products is being assessed in an in vitro cervicovaginal epithelial cell model by confirming lack of inflammatory effects. 

Bacterial vaginosis affects over 1 in 5 women of reproductive age globally and increases the risk of a women acquiring and transmitting HIV. The prevalence of bacterial vaginosis in some areas of sub-Saharan reach up to 50% where HIV is highly prevalent. Bacterial vaginosis also increases the risk of a women acquiring other STIs including chlamydia. It is estimated that bacterial vaginosis prevalence is 20 – 30% in Indigenous populations in Australia and in Papua New Guinea where there is high STI prevalence.

BV also increases the risk of adverse reproductive health outcomes including spontaneous preterm birth.  Sustained intravaginal delivery of the active product over an extended period of time (i.e. 21 days) is expected to increase adherence and the efficacy to treat and prevent bacterial vaginosis and to prevent STIs including HIV as well as spontaneous preterm birth.

SQUARE Gildatachedjian 002 WEB

Professor Gilda Tachedjian

Contact Professor Gilda Tachedjian for more information about this project.



  • ACH2
  • MRFF
  • FSET-Swinburne University of Technology
  • Burnet Institute

Partners +

  • Swinburne University of Technology - Professor Simon Moulton, Dr Simon Cook