Anti-clot drug may treat womb disease

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Clot-busting drugs that are normally used to treat heart disease could also help women with endometriosis, a painful condition of the womb.

Clot-busting drugs that are normally used to treat heart disease could also help women with endometriosis, a painful condition of the womb.

The second most common gynaecological problem, endometriosis affects more than two million women in Britain. Now researchers have found that statins, already hailed as a new class of wonder-drug, may be able to halt the damage it causes. At the moment, there is no cure or treatment except for painkillers to alleviate distress.

The research was presented at the annual conference of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Philadelphia yesterday. Scientists believe the breakthrough could hold out the potential for successful treatment of the disease.

Endometriosis is caused when the endometrial tissue lining the womb is found elsewhere in the pelvis, such as the fallopian tubes or bladder. Because it is linked to menstruation, the tissue builds up each month, then breaks down as bleeding occurs. But unlike in the womb, the tissue has no way of leaving the body, so it causes inflammation, pain and scarring. The lesions can cause infertility.

Scientists from Yale University in America took endometrial tissue from sufferers and used statins to treat the samples. Developed to treat heart disease, statins inhibit the enzymes in the body's cells responsible for cholesterol production but also stop inflammation and cell proliferation. When they were used on the samples, they inhibited cell proliferation, leading scientists to believe they could stop endometrial tissue being produced outside the womb.

The findings could help endometriosis sufferers such as the former television presenter Anthea Turner, who cannot have children because of the disease.

Mary Lou Ballweg, of the Endometriosis Society, said: "Girls as young as nine develop endometriosis and it is a very painful and distressing condition. Anything that can help with treatment is welcome."

Statins are available over the counter in Britain, and the NHS is set to spend £2bn a year on the drugs by 2010.

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