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About once a month, bioengineer Laura Ensign-Hodges gets a very personal email from a stranger.

Usually, that stranger will detail her symptoms — an unusual smell and an oddly colored vaginal discharge — and how those symptoms have wrecked her life. She’ll tell Ensign-Hodges about the drugs she’s tried that haven’t worked.


Ensign-Hodges wants to help her and people like her — and soon, she may be able to. She and her colleagues at Johns Hopkins have just received the Food and Drug Administration’s approval to begin a clinical trial at a frontier within the emerging field of microbiome science: using vaginal microbiota transplants to treat bacterial vaginosis.

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