Researchers at the Japanese Chugai Pharmaceutical, are making exciting strides in endometriosis treatment. Endometriosis, a condition where the tissue that lines the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside it, affects roughly one in ten women of reproductive age. This can lead to severe pain and even infertility.
The Chugai Pharmaceutical team found that this endometrial tissue shows increased levels of a particular gene called IL8, which creates an inflammation-causing protein known as interleukin-8 (IL-8). The scientists developed an antibody named AMY109 to block IL-8, aiming to lessen the inflammation linked to endometriosis and potentially slow or reverse its development.
The researchers tested AMY109 on monkeys by inducing endometriosis and administering monthly injections of either AMY109 or a placebo over six months. Remarkably, the size of the endometriosis lesions in monkeys treated with AMY109 shrunk by around 50%, while those in the placebo group continued to grow.
Crucially, the team also found that AMY109 seems to be safe. They administered high doses of the antibody to monkeys without endometriosis, observing no impact on a variety of health indicators such as weight, food intake, sperm quality in males, and menstrual cycles in females.
Chugai Pharmaceutical is currently conducting a clinical trial in human volunteers to further test AMY109’s safety and its effectiveness in reducing endometriosis lesions. If successful, this could present a promising new way to manage endometriosis symptoms that doesn’t involve invasive surgery or hormone-suppressing drugs, which can lead to side effects like headaches, mood swings, and cessation of menstruation.
Ayako Nishimoto-Kakiuchi et al., A long-acting anti–IL-8 antibody improves inflammation and fibrosis in endometriosis.Sci. Transl. Med.15,eabq5858(2023).DOI:10.1126/scitranslmed.abq5858 available at https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/scitranslmed.abq5858