If You Suffer From Endometriosis, Better Help May Be Coming

New drug combo shows promise in relieving pain, symptoms
woman lying with hot water bag

By Linda Bradley, MD

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Despite the fact that endometriosis is fairly common, we still don’t have a good handle on exactly what causes the condition. This has prevented researchers from developing the most effective treatments.

Several new studies may offer promise for women with endometriosis. These studies may signal potential breakthroughs, leading to much more effective ways to alleviate the pain that endometriosis causes.

Endometriosis occurs when tissue, which is similar to tissue lining the inside of the uterus, grows outside the uterus – usually on the surface of organs in the pelvic and abdominal areas. The painful aspects of the condition frequently keep many women from working, going to school or enjoying their favorite activities — especially if they aren’t receiving treatment for it.

New drug combination is promising

A recent clinical study, conducted at the University of Bath in England with women of reproductive age, demonstrated great potential of a new drug combination. The two drugs are E2MATE – created in the university’s Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology – and norethindrone acetate, or traditional progesterone.

Researchers must test the drug combination further in human trials to confirm that it will be an effective treatment of endometriosis, but it shows great promise.

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The drugs work to starve the endometrial tissue and prevent it from growing.

With the combined treatment, the cells grew even less. With less growth, the patient sees fewer symptoms of pain and infertility, and may eventually see none at all.

Researchers plan further study

Endometriosis comes in four types: minimal, mild, moderate and severe. Researchers still need to determine who exactly will benefit the most from this drug combo and how best to administer it. Several key questions remain, the researchers say:

  • Which will the drug combination have the most effect on treatment?
  • Will the drug be age-dependent?
  • Will it be weight-dependent?

Studies to better understand the disease

Other recent studies are helping to provide a better understanding of what causes this condition. They may lead to improved treatments.

In its study with mice, The MRC Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland explored the belief that the lack of a suitable animal model in which to study the condition hindered previous studies.

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It’s a rather complicated process, but researchers used estrogen and progesterone to induce menstruation in a donor mouse. They removed endometrial tissue that mouse shed from its uterus and implanted it into a recipient mouse. They studied the tissue that grew, just as it would in a human with endometriosis, and found that lesions did develop.

Another recent study at MIT revealed cellular activity that could help researchers better understand endometriosis, and yet another study examined ways to improve diagnosis of the disease.

No reason to wait; seek treatment now

While researchers continue to explore the mechanisms of endometriosis, don’t wait if you’re in pain. Contact your physician to discuss treatment and avoid missing out on your daily activities. 

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