Estrogen receptor ligands could treat endometriosis without causing infertility
Treating endometriosis commonly comes at the cost of fertility - a major drawback given that a significant portion of patients are of childbearing age. A team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has shown that targeting estrogen receptors directly, rather than reducing systemic estrogen levels, could treat the disease without the classical side effects, but the question now is whether the new mechanism carries other safety liabilities.
Endometriosis affects about 10% of women of reproductive age and involves the ectopic growth of tissue from the uterus lining (endometrium) into the peritoneal cavity where it forms inflammatory, invasive lesions. Pelvic pain is a hallmark of the disease and up to 50% of patients lose the ability to conceive.
The underlying pathogenesis of the disease is not fully understood, but one important factor is that high levels of estrogen from endometrial lesions promote the lesions'