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Scientists believe they could have found a potential treatment for endometriosis, putting an end to painful symptoms for millions of women.
According to experts at Washinton University School of Medicine, antibiotics could reduce the size of lesions caused by the condition.
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the womb begins to grow in other places, like the fallopian tubes or the ovaries.
One in ten women in the UK alone are thought to have the condition, which can cause debilitating symptoms, from stomach cramps and pain during sex to difficulty getting pregnant.
At this stage, the drug has only been tested on mice, but it's hoped the human trials will present similar findings.
Scientists are planning a clinical trial to test out metronidazole in women who have endometriosis, to see if it has the desired effect.
Previous tests found that mice given the antibiotic saw the size of endometriosis-related lesions in their gut had reduced in size. This was the case for those who had received the treatment before the lesions formed and after the endometriosis was well established.
Therefore, experts now hope this means the drug could potentially cure, or at least reverse the condition, no matter how long a person has had it.
They also found that bacteria found in the gut microbiome could help drive, or prevent, progression of the disease.
"Our initial goal was to understand how these gut bacteria, or microbiota, might be connected to endometriosis, but in the process, we may have found a cost-effective treatment," principal investigator Dr Ramakrishna Kommagani said.
The team also discovered that levels of good bacteria in the gut were really low in the mice with endometriosis, so they concluded that taking a probiotic, along with the antibiotic, could help women with the condition.
Co-author Dr Indira Mysorekar added: "This study is exciting as it opens new frontiers in identifying bacterial candidates that can promote endometriosis in reproductive-age women, and it enables us to conduct future studies aimed at developing simpler ways to diagnose endometriosis."
If trials are successful, this could be a real game changer.
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