Just a quick update about a potentially interesting piece of research I noticed today.
Researchers have identified a protein (called z13) that selectively binds to and is absorbed by, endometriotic cells. In a way, finding this protein has been like the child’s toy where you have a box with different shaped holes in it and you have to find the right shaped peg to fit in the hole, except imagine you have a box with tens of thousands of different holes and tens of thousands of accompanying pegs, not an easy task. Now that this protein has been discovered it means we have a way to target endometriosis specifically and ignore all other tissue and organs in the body.
What the researchers then did was attach other proteins to z13 which would induce cells to die. Effectively, what they now had was an endo seeking missile. So far the researchers have tested this on peritoneal endometriosis in baboons and found that the targeted proteins caused the endometriotic cells to die whilst leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed.
One of the best things about this approach, from a patient perspective, is that this is completely non-hormonal; no messing around with the ovaries, no pumping the whole body with hormones, just targeting the disease itself.
Cautious optimism aside, it may be a while before we see this approach translated into humans and there are still many more tests to be done to make sure it is safe. Nevertheless this shows that research is not continuously bogged down in the old ‘hormone therapy’ mindset and people are exploring new and exciting possibilities and, whilst this may not be a cure, it is a step in the right direction.