Researchers Discover Promising, New Therapeutic Approach for Patients with Endometriosis

Researchers Discover Promising, New Therapeutic Approach for Patients with Endometriosis

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from The University of Illinois have recently released early results of a successful experimental study treating endometriosis with two new compounds.  The study entitled, “Dual suppression of estrogenic and inflammatory activities for targeting of endometriosis,” showed that OBHS (oxabicycloheptene sulfonate) and CLI (chloroindazole), could be used as possible preventative and therapeutic agents for endometriosis and other inflammatory disorders.  The study was published in the January 2015 edition of Science.

Background Terminology:

  • Estrogen Receptors: are a group of receptors found inside cells that are activated by the hormone estrogen.
  • Inflammatory Disorders: inflammation refers to a biological response to stimuli interpreted by the body to have a potentially harmful effect-inflammatory disorders result from an abnormal inflammatory response that results in the immune system attacking the body’s own cells or tissues and may cause abnormal inflammation, which results in chronic pain, redness, swelling, stiffness, and damage to normal tissues.
  • Human Endometriotic Cells: cells that originate from the endometrium, which is the inner mucous membrane of the human female uterus.

About Endometriosis:

Endometriosis is a result of endometrial tissue, the tissue that normally lines the uterus, growing in other areas of a woman’s reproductive system. The abnormal growth can occur on the ovaries, behind the uterus, on the bowels, or on the bladder. This abnormal tissue growth can cause chronic pain, inflammation, and very heavy periods. The pain is usually in the abdomen, lower back, or pelvic areas. For some women endometriosis can result in difficulty conceiving a child or a more devastating result of complete infertility.

According to the CDC, Endometriosis afflicts as many as 15 percent of reproductive-age women in the U.S. and millions of women around the world.

The Study:

When discussing the study methods, authors Dr. Benita Katzenellenbogen, PhD, and Dr. John Katzenellenbogen, PhD., said “The usual treatments for endometriosis are aimed at suppressing estrogen production because it’s an estrogen-driven disease. We thought that a better approach might be to interfere with both of the main aspects of endometriosis: the growth-promoting actions and also the inflammatory aspects—both of which involve the estrogen receptor.”

The research team did this by conducting experimental tests in two different models:

  • Mouse model in which the mice underwent experiments that resulted in the animals having endometriosis.
  • Human endometriotic cells.

The results showed that both OBHS and CLI, interacted with two types of estrogen receptors (ER-alpha and ER-beta), reduced the size of endometriotic tissue and prevented its growth outside the uterus in mice. Each compound also reduced inflammation and suppressed the development of new neurons and blood vessels that support the misplaced tissue. Also, a very important observation was that neither compound reduced fertility or the health of young pups born to mouse mothers that had undergone the therapies.

Concerning the findings, Dr. Katzenellenbogen stated, “Inflammation is a driver of endometriosis. At some point you’ve got to turn it off, and these compounds turn it off by working through the estrogen receptors.”

The study findings are very optimistic, but confirmatory studies need to be conducted in more animal models, and if the results prove positive, eventually in human clinical trials.

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