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Endometriosis UK response to new research from Edinburgh University

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Researchers at The University of Edinburgh have announced results of a study suggesting the painful symptoms of endometriosis could be treated with the drug dichloroacetate, currently used for cancer treatment. (Please note endometriosis is not a type of cancer). The research team have found that cells from the pelvic wall of women with endometriosis have a different metabolism compared to women without the disease. The cells produced higher amounts of lactate – a potentially harmful waste product – which is similar to the behaviour of cancer cells.

In laboratory tests, treating cells of women with endometriosis with dichloroacetate was found to lower the production of lactate and the cells return to normal metabolic function.

The researchers believe these new findings could help ease endometriosis in women who cannot or do not wish to take hormonal treatments, or prevent recurrence of the disease after surgery. The team are conducting an early phase clinical trial to see if they can confirm their findings. Clinical trials are medical research studies involving people, designed to find out if a treatment or procedure is safe, has side effects, works better than the currently used treatment, and affects quality of life; clinical trials are essential in the development of potential treatments.

Lead Researcher, Professor Andrew Horne, MRC Centre for Reproductive Health at University of Edinburgh, said: “Endometriosis can be a life-changing condition for so many women. Now that we understand better the metabolism of the cells in women that have endometriosis, we can work to develop a non-hormonal treatment. Through a clinical trial with dichloroacetate we should be able to see if the conditions we observed in the lab are replicated in women.”

Endometriosis UK welcomes new research into endometriosis, a much under researched area despite affecting 1 in 10 women, 176 million globally.

Emma Cox, CEO of Endometriosis UK said: “The need for more investment in research into endometriosis cannot be overstated – research is needed towards finding the cause of endometriosis, better treatments and management of the disease, and one day a cure. Without significant investment in research people with endometriosis will continue to face barriers in accessing the right support at the right time.

Symptoms of endometriosis differ person to person, and getting a diagnosis and choosing treatment options can be frustrating process. Treatment options include surgery, hormone treatment and pain management, all of which come with risks and challenges. The team at the University of Edinburgh have announced interesting results from their latest research, and we look forward to the outcomes of the clinical trials”.