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Laura M. Ensign

Laura M. Ensign

Department Affiliation: Primary: Ophthalmology, Nanomedicine Division; Joint: Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering;
Secondary: Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences
Degree: Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University
Rank: Associate Professor

Phone: 410-614-9854
Fax: 410-287-7922
School of Medicine Address: Robert H. and Clarice Smith Bldg., Room 6015, 400 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD  21287

Nanomedicine for drug delivery.

When a patient takes a pill or injection, drug enters the bloodstream and the entire body is exposed. This is why conventional drugs have so many side effects. Nanotechnology has great potential for improving delivery of drugs to target cells and tissues, which is the field of Nanomedicine. However, the body has evolved many defense mechanisms to protect our important cells and tissues from direct access, resulting in numerous biological barriers to developing effective nanomedicines. The Ensign lab is focused on characterizing biological barriers in health and disease in order to design more efficacious formulations for prophylactic and therapeutic drug delivery. We employ a wide range of engineering tools and animal models to characterize our drug delivery systems in the context of clinical translation. Areas of interest include topical ocular drug delivery, inflammatory bowel disease, preterm birth prevention, sexually transmitted infection prevention, bladder cancer, bacterial vaginosis, surgical devices, and more


Representative Publications:  

  • Date A, Rais R, Babu T, Ortiz J, Kanvinde P, Thomas AG, Slusher B, Ensign LM. Local enema treatment to inhibit FOLH1 as a novel therapy for inflammatory bowel disease, J Control Release, 2017, in press. Pub Med Reference

  • Ensign LM, Tang B, Wang YY, Tse TA, Hoen T, Cone R, Hanes J. Mucus penetrating nanoparticles for vaginal drug delivery protect against herpes simplex virus. Sci Transl Med., 4:138ra79, 2012. Pub Med Reference 

  • Maisel K, Moench T, Hendrix C, Cone R, Ensign LM*, Hanes J*. Enema ion compositions for enhancing colorectal drug delivery. J Control Release, 209(10):280-287, 2015. Pub Med Reference   

  • Yu T, Choi W-J, Anonuevo A, Chisholm J, Pulicare S, Zhong W, Chen M, Fridley C, McMahon MT, Lai SK, Ensign LM, Suk JS, Hanes J. Mucus-penetrating nanosuspensions for enhanced delivery of poorly soluble drugs to mucosal surfaces, Adv Healthc Mater, 5(21):2745-2750, 2016. Pub Med Reference

  • Xu Q, Ensign LM, Boylan N, Schon A, Gong C, Yang C, Lamb NW, Cai S, Yu T, Freire E, Hanes J. Impact of surface polyethylene glycol (PEG) density on biodegradable nanoparticle transport in mucus ex vivo and distribution in vivo, ACS Nano., 9(9):9217-9227, 2015. Pub Med Reference 

  • Ensign LM*, Cone R, Hanes J*. Oral drug delivery with polymeric nanoparticles: The gastrointestinal mucus barriers. Adv Drug Del Rev., 64: 557-570, 2012. Pub Med Reference  

  • Ensign LM*, Cone R, Hanes J. Nanoparticle-based drug delivery to the vagina: a review. J Control Release, 190:500-514, 2014. Pub Med Reference   

  • Suk JS, Xu Q, Kim N, Hanes J, Ensign LM. PEGylation as a strategy for improving nanoparticle-based drug and gene delivery, Adv Drug Del Rev., 99(Pt A):28-51, 2016. Pub Med Reference   

Other graduate programs in which Dr. Ensign participates: