Endometriosis, when tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, can cause debilitating chronic pelvic pain, painful periods, pain with sex, pain with opening the bowels and passing urine, and difficulties conceiving.
Affecting almost one in 10 women, the condition is as common as diabetes, but a straightforward treatment for it doesn’t exist. Women often undergo hormonal treatment – which can have unpleasant side effects – or gruelling surgery and still often find that their symptoms remain.
Understanding of the disease is also poor which means that women take eight years on average to be diagnosed.
So, Andrew Horne, Professor of Gynaecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, wants to better understand endometriosis and find a new way of treating it.
In a previous project funded by Wellbeing of Women, Professor Horne and his team discovered that endometriosis behaves in a similar way to cancer cells, raising the question whether small doses of an anticancer drug – dichloroacetate – could be used to treat it.
Using these findings, Professor Horne and his team began this new project also funded by Wellbeing of Women which involved testing the drug.
The tests found that it successfully reduced the size of endometriosis lesions, a truly promising discovery which opened up the opportunity for Professor Horne to take the treatment to clinical trial.
Thanks to our funding of his early research, Professor Horne could unlock the first non-hormonal, non-surgical treatment for this debilitating disease, giving hope to the millions of women living with endometriosis every day.