BME assistant professor Rahima Benhabbour. who is also adjunct professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, has been featured in the December issue of Chapel Hill Magazine for her use of 3D-printing technology to create drug delivery devices for disease prevention and treatment in women. “Unlike traditional technology, 3D printing gives us the ability and engineering to play around with the design and properties of a product,” Dr. Behnhabbour says. “We can engineer parts that would not have been possible before. The main goal of developing this 3D technology is to have the ability to change the ways in which women’s products are manufactured and designed. And the applications for the technology are endless – including [the] prevention of HIV, sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies.”
Since launching her startup company AnelleO in 2016, Behnhabbour has been working on the first product, AnelleO PRO, a once-a-month progesterone-releasing ring for infertility and assisted reproductive technology. The goal of AnelleO is to create a more efficient drug delivery that can be customized to women and their individual needs, given that current technology for intervaginal rings is a one-size-fits-all product. The name AnelleO means “a ring for her”: “Anello” is “ring” in Italian, and “elle” is “her” in French. The letter “O” represents the ring the company makes. AnelleO just received National Institutes of Health funding through a Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer grant. Also, the UNC Office of Technology Commercialization team – part of the Innovate Carolina initiative – assisted Behnhabbour with guidance on patents and licensing.
Dr. Behnhabbour’s roots in advocacy for women’s health issues run deep. “I’m from North Africa,” she says. “I’m a woman. The thought of helping women – some who don’t have a way of protecting themselves or controlling their lives – that’s my ultimate passion. It’s a dream for me to give back.” Many congratulations to Prof Benhabbour! You can read about her startup company and entrepreneurship journey in Chapel Hill Magazine online here.