Studies have shown that around 70% of post-menopausal women experience hot flushes. Around 10% of those women have described it as “intolerable”, and scientists have been working on improving treatments to improve the lives of millions of women. A new trial, which was carried out by researchers at the Imperial College London has found that a new type of menopause treatment could be used to reduce the number of hot flushes in women, as well as to reduce the severity of them and other symptoms associated with menopause.
The trial of the new medication, which works by blocking the signals in the brain that transmit the chemical neurokinin B, carried out on 37 women between the age of 40 and 62 in early menopause. They found that the drug reduced the frequency of hot flushes by 75% in just a few days. It was also found to reduce the severity of their symptoms. 82% of the women who took part reported less interruptions in their sleep, and 77% noted that they had seen an improvement in their concentration.
Professor Waljit Dhillo, professor of endocrinology and metabolism and author of the study said NKB antagonists had been “sitting on a shelf unused” for years. “For the women concerned it’s a really serious matter affecting their quality of life. “”We have proven this new mechanism can pretty much get rid of most of your flushes, this is the first time it’s been demonstrated. If you imagine you’re having 84 flushes per week, that’s going to have a severe impact on your quality of life and ability to do things.”
“That’s a very severe group but this would benefit anybody with troublesome symptoms”, he said. He added that the current treatment option, HRT, can have serious side effects in some women, like an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and a higher risk of blood clots. Dr Julia Prague added: “To see the lives of our participants change so dramatically and so quickly was so exciting, and suggests great promise for the future of this new type of treatment.”
Dr Heather Currie, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and British Menopause Society also commented on the trial, saying that the drugs “have the potential to significantly reduce” symptoms.” She added: “The RCOG welcomes further research into potential new treatments for menopause as it may increase choice for women, for some of whom traditional drugs, such as hormone replacement therapy, may not be recommended.”