MAY 17, 2023 11:00 AM PDT

Nanozyme Designed to Treat Yeast Infections

WRITTEN BY: Amielle Moreno

It might be upsetting to learn that common yeast infection treatments mostly halt the progress rather than kill the underlying fungus and can damage the vaginal microenvironment. Now in Science Advances study, scientists at Nanjing University in China have made a significant stride toward combating vaginal fungal infections using nanotechnology, offering hope for millions of women with yeast infections caused by Candida vaginitis.

By GLAM initiative, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Candida vaginitis is a common fungal disease, caused by the Candida albicans fungus, that causes vulvovaginal inflammation, taking a toll on a patient’s physical and mental well-being.

The researchers harnessed the power of nanozymes, artificially engineered molecules designed to mimic the functions of natural enzymes, to develop a revolutionary treatment approach. Nanozymes have proven to outperform their biological counterparts in various living systems, exhibiting remarkable physicochemical properties, capable of displaying unique density, pH, and solubility parameters. This study demonstrates their potential to correct the dysbiosis, an imbalance in the natural bacteria flora, often associated with vaginal yeast infections.

The team's innovation comes in the form of a peroxidase-like rGO@FeS2 nanozyme. This nanozyme is combined with lactic acid from helpful Lactobacillus bacteria and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) to create a responsive hyaluronic acid hydrogel known as FeLab. The cutting-edge probiotic hydrogel offers both therapeutic benefits and the preservation of the delicate vaginal microbiota.

FeLab showed remarkable efficacy in eradicating Candida albicans and restoring the imbalances it causes. It enables Lactobacillus bacteria to carry out their essential antibacterial functions. During vaginal infections, the presence of Proteobacteria, commonly found in the gut, tends to increase. Conversely, cases of bacterial vaginosis often display a decrease in Firmicute bacteria. Remarkably, mice treated with FeLab exhibited improved bacterial diversity, with higher levels of Firmicute bacteria and reduced Proteobacteria, indicating a healthier vaginal microbiome.

Remarkably, the FeLab treatment demonstrated superior outcomes in mice infected with Candida, compared to the commercially available treatment, clortrimazole. It’s more gentle causing minimal damage to the vaginal mucosa cells.

The development of FeLab represents a long-overdue breakthrough in vaginal fungal treatments. As with other cutting-edge infection therapies, this nanozyme treatment not only targets and eliminates harmful pathogens but also fosters a therapeutic microenvironment. By preserving the delicate balance of the vaginal microbiota, FeLab holds the potential to revolutionize the treatment landscape for Candida vaginitis.

The path to effective and safe treatments for vaginal fungal infections appears brighter than ever, bringing renewed hope and relief to individuals affected by this common yet challenging condition.


ACS Publications, Science Advances, Frontiers in Immunology


About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Amielle Moreno earned her doctorate in neuroscience from Emory University and has dedicated her career to science communication, news coverage, and academic writing/editing. She is a published researcher who has branched out to author articles for various science websites. She recently published an original research article detailing her findings on how sensory areas of the brain respond to social sound. When she's not writing or editing, you can find her spinning the latest neuroscience news into comedy gold, hosting her podcast "Miss Behavior Journal Club." This fortnightly humorous podcast features the latest in behavioral research. Her goal in life is to defend and discover scientific truths.
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