What is Endometriosis?

Aug 18, 2023

The three most important words in real estate are location, location, location.

Perhaps the three most important words in endometriosis, a chronic, painful gynecological disease without a cure, are inflammation, inflammation, inflammation.

A recent feature in the British newspaper, The Guardian, entitled It’s really only the beginning’: are we on the cusp of a breakthrough in endometriosis? frames endometriosis as a condition of “chronic inflammation”. The feature prominently spotlights Dr. Andrew Horne, Chair of Gynecology and Reproductive sciences at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, who indirectly references nibrozetone (RRx-001) as a drug that “sort of deactivates, if you like, immune cells called macrophages. And we know that these are really important for the development of endometriosis lesions”.

Dr. Horne and his team have submitted a grant to investigate nibrozetone (RRx-001) in the clinic as a possible treatment for endometriosis. Experimental data indicate that nibrozetone, a non-hormonal treatment that inhibits the NLRP3 inflammasome, significantly reduces lesion development and pain in mice challenged with intraperitoneal endometrial material.

Affecting about 6.5 million women in the United States and over 190 million women worldwide, endometriosis is defined by the presence of uterine or endometrial-like tissue outside the uterus. It is a benign condition with cancer-like features. Pain and infertility are the most common symptoms. Depression and anxiety also frequently co-occur. Treatment options include painkillers, surgery, or hormonal contraceptives like “the pill” since estrogen contributes to the disease. These options may relieve symptoms, but none are curative. Recent evidence suggests that surgery, a mainstay of management, may worsen pain and infertility. Also, hormonal treatment is not indicated for women that want to become pregnant. Marilyn Monroe, Queen Victoria, Dolly Parton, and Bindi Irwin, conservationist and daughter of beloved Australian zookeeper, Steve Irwin, are among the long list of celebrities known to have been diagnosed with endometriosis.

So, the takeaway is that an unmet need exists for new treatments, possibly like nibrozetone (RRx-001) that are disease modifying and fertility sparing. For the 10-15% of women in the world that suffer from endometriosis, a new treatment option can’t come soon enough.