Exploring the Vaginal Microbiome in the VENUS Study: New Horizons for Women's Vaginal Health

Exploring the Vaginal Microbiome in the VENUS Study: New Horizons for Women's Vaginal Health

June 2024
Chief Science Officer, Kim Capone, PhD

 

Dr. Kim Capone, Lead educator of SHWI and Chief Science Officer for Vaginal Biome Science.

 

 

 We are thrilled to share that we have launched our pioneering vaginal microbiome registry study entitled “Vaginal Ecosystem and Network in the US” (VENUS) Study.  This study promises to reveal the complex dynamics of the vaginal microbiome and its crucial role in various gynecological conditions to transform our understanding and improve treatment options for women suffering with vaginal health issues.

Deepening Our Understanding of Vaginal Dysbiosis

The vaginal microbiome is a delicate and intricate ecosystem. When in balance, it helps maintain vaginal health and protects against infections. However, disturbances in this microbial community called dysbiosis can lead to conditions such as bacterial vaginosis, candidiasis, urinary tract infections, and sexually transmitted diseases. Vaginal dysbiosis is also known to be associated with other vaginal and vulvar conditions, such as lichen sclerosis and endometriosis, but data are lacking.  This study will help bridge the knowledge gap and provide robust data to better understand the etiology of dysbiosis-associated conditions.

We imagine a future where early diagnosis and targeted therapies along with microbiome maintenance strategies significantly improve patient outcomes. - Dr. Kim Capone, Chief Science Officer

VENUS is a cross-sectional study involving up to 3,250 cis-gender, US-based women aged 18 to 89, including both healthy individuals and those with one (or more) of 12 of the most commonly diagnosed gynecological conditions. Our primary objective and what makes this study unique- is our ability to analyze the diversity of the vaginal microbiome data taken at the time of a doctor’s diagnosis using both NGS and our comprehensive vaginal microbiota qPCR panel. By doing so, we hope to correlate specific microbial compositions, abundances, antibiotic resistance profiles, and more with clinical symptoms and outcomes to revolutionize how we diagnose and manage these conditions. We hypothesize that each gynecological condition has a unique microbial signature but with the potential for significant variations among individuals, that healthy vaginal microbiomes are characterized by a dominance of Lactobacillus species, that antibiotic resistance is a major contributing factor to vaginal disease recalcitrance, and that vaginal conditions are associated with yet to be identified microbes and/or quantities of microbes. If proven, these hypotheses could lead to a significant improvement of incremental validity in diagnosis as well as more precise and personalized treatments, moving beyond the conventional, often indiscriminate and repetitive use of antibiotics. We imagine a future where early diagnosis and targeted therapies along with microbiome maintenance strategies significantly improve patient outcomes.

Creating a Comprehensive Registry Database

The aim is to establish a comprehensive registry database that will serve as an invaluable resource for current and future research. This database will support the basic understanding of the vaginal microbiome in various states, development of personalized medicine approaches in women's health, and allow us to explore long-term trends and relationships within the vaginal microbiome. This study is more than just data collection; it is a significant leap towards understanding the vaginal microbiome's role in gynecological health at the time of diagnosis. By participating, doctors in our network are contributing to a body of research that could transform diagnostic and therapeutic strategies, offering new hope and improved care for women worldwide. We would like to especially thank our Principal Investigators for their dedication and commitment to uncovering new insights to better help patients in their vaginal health journeys.  We could not do this without your partnership!

 

If you are interested in being a participant in the VENUS study find a time on our Calendar to learn to get involved.  

Back to blog