Potential non-hormonal treatment for endometriosis discovered – study

Science and Health

A new treatment for endometriosis may have been discovered, according to a new study published on June 14.

The peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, found that the Fusobacterium antibiotic may help reduce teh forming of lesions, which is a common characteristic of endometriosis.

The study may have also found a potential cause for endometriosis. Transgelin protein was found in patients with endometriosis in excessive amounts. Further investigating this, the researchers found that overgrowth of growth factor beta (TGF-β) inhibited the body’s ability to control transgelin production.

“In this study, we demonstrated that the Fusobacterium-TAGLN-endometriosis axis is frequently dysregulated in endometriosis,” said Dr. Kondo. “Our data provide a strong and novel rationale for targeting Fusobacterium as a non-hormonal antibiotic-based treatment for endometriosis.” 

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where the cell tissue, which lines a woman’s womb, grows in other places like the ovaries and the fallopian tubes, according to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.

A colored drawing of female anatomy depicting a uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Menstruation, monthly period (Illustrative) (credit: FLICKR)

One in ten women aged 15-49 years old has the disorder. The symptoms of endometriosis include pain in the lower stomach, back or pelvis, significant pain during menstruation, pain during or after penetrative sex, pain when using the bathroom during the menstrual period and difficulty getting pregnant.

While there is no known cure for the treatment, doctors may suggest taking over-the-counter pain medicine, using hormone-based contraceptives, surgery to remove patches of endometriosis tissue or a hysterectomy whereby the womb is removed entirely.

The cause of endometriosis is unknown, although researchers have suggested it could be the result of genetics or a problem with the immune system.

How did the researchers discover the impact of Fusobacterium?

The researchers treated half a population of mice with the antibiotic. The mice that had received Fusobacterium had fewer and less heavy lesions on their uteruses compared to the mice that didn’t have the drug.

“Eradication of this bacterium by antibiotic treatment could be an approach to treat endometriosis for women who are positive for fusobacteria infection, and such women could be easily identified by vaginal swab or uterus swab,” Professor Yutaka Kondo said. 

This antibiotic is non-hormone based and is not a form of contraceptive, which may mean that it is a promising option for women with endometriosis trying to conceive, or those that do not wish to use hormone treatments.