Scientists test ‘miracle’ pill to cure period pains | ‘miracle’ pill
Scientists from Southampton have created a pill, from a drug called VA111913, to cure women’s period pains.
The drug, taken as a prescribed medicine, is designed to tackle the cause of agonising monthly stomach cramps which leave some women bedridden.
It is currently in the second phase of testing and is being is being trialled on 128 women, aged between 18 and 35, in Britain and America.
Participants will be given a six-day course of the treatment during their menstrual cycle.
If proven to be effective, the drug, called VA111913, could be available within four years.
Dr Jim Phillips, chief executive of Vantia Therapeutics, the Southampton-based company behind the discovery, is confident the drug will be a success.
He said: “I think it would be fair to call it a breakthrough, there is certainly no other treatment like it.
“From our research there is nothing to suggest it won’t work.”
Period pain is caused by contractions in the womb as it sheds its lining during menstruation.
Each contraction temporarily stops the blood flow to the womb causing the blood vessels in the muscle wall to compress and the tissue to be starved of oxygen – causing pain, called dysmenorrhoea.
At the same time chemicals, called prostaglandins, are released that induce stronger contractions and can cause more pain.
There are thought to be a number of ways to ease the pain – from relaxing exercises to placing a hot water bottle on the stomach.
There are also several painkillers on the market, but there is currently no treatment specifically designed to stop the pain completely.
The company’s chief medical officer, Hilary McElwaine-Johnn, said: “We found that what was on the market did not meet the need of those women who can’t even get to work or school because of the pain.”
The new drug works by targeting the muscles that contract in the uterus wall, by doing this scientists believe this will stop the pain.
Dr Phillips said: “This had the potential to directly target the cause of dysmenorrhoea by acting on the smooth muscle in the uterus wall.
“We believe this could offer and effective alternative to the over-the-counter painkillers.”
If successful the company could win a slice of the therapeutic market for period pains estimated to be worth around one billion dollars.
Dr Phillips hopes the revenue from the drug could run into multi-millions.
He said: “We won’t get any revenue from it for at least five years, but if it is successful we would be looking for commercialisation partnerships that would be worth tens of millions of dollars in the United States.”
The result of the trial, taking place over the next two months, will be known by the middle of next year.