Endometriosis, a painful condition that affects up to 10% of women and girls of reproductive age, has long puzzled medical professionals. As we delve deeper into the mysteries of the human body, we're realising that the microscopic world of bacteria might offer answers we've been seeking.
Many have been left without an answer to what to do about their excruciating Endometriosis pain with many who have Endometriosis being either not diagnosed or not having anything to help get rid of it, especially if the sufferer does not wish to go on hormonal control (and in some cases that makes it worse).
Figure1: Statistics of period pain amongst menstruators. 10% have endometriosis, 43% (inclusive) report pain every period. 85% have had pain at least once. That leaves only 15% of menstruators having never had period pain. Information from journal of pain research.
This breakthrough research study, recently published in science and summarised in nature is amazing as it shows what we can achieve with endometriosis research as we progress towards a possible cure.
What is the new Endometriosis study?
A groundbreaking study conducted in Japan has provided intriguing evidence that infection by a particular group of bacteria, the Fusobacterium genus, could be linked to endometriosis1. The research involved 155 women, and researchers found Fusobacterium in the uteruses of approximately 64% of those with endometriosis and only 7% of those without the condition1.
However, it's not yet time to herald this as a definitive cause or a cure. Elise Courtois, a genomicist who studies endometriosis at the Jackson Laboratory in Farmington, Connecticut, warns that more research is necessary before these findings can be used to develop treatments1. Nevertheless, the study has sparked increased interest in the potential role of microbes in endometriosis, a condition with currently limited treatment options and poorly understood origins.
What causes Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is caused by the migration of tissue from the uterus lining, called the endometrium, to other parts of the body, where it attaches and grows. The most common symptom is pain, often severe, and it's associated with reduced fertility. Current treatments include hormone therapies and surgery to remove lesions, but these are not without their downsides1.
The Japanese study not only discovered a higher presence of Fusobacterium in the uteruses of women with endometriosis but also conducted experiments in mice. These revealed that lesions, the markers of endometriosis, tended to be more abundant and larger in mice inoculated with Fusobacterium. Moreover, treatment with certain antibiotics reduced the development of endometriosis in the mice and shrank the number and size of the lesions1.
What are the next steps in treating Endometriosis?
These promising findings have prompted a clinical trial in women with endometriosis to investigate whether antibiotics could alleviate some of their symptoms1. However, it's crucial to remember that this research is in its early stages. The study's results are compelling, but there are still many pieces of the puzzle missing, including the need for more diverse population studies and a better understanding of how the results translate from mice to humans1.
As we stand on the brink of potential breakthroughs, it's important to remain cautiously optimistic. While we're still at the infancy of this line of research, the findings are indeed intriguing and offer hope that the future of endometriosis treatment could lie in the realm of microbiology.
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@theperiodpainco Replying to @The Period Pain Co
Original science article (note there is a paywall): https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/scitranslmed.add1531
Nature article summarising it: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-01956-4