Magnetic nanotechnology is showing promise in locating and removing painful lesions, becoming a potential endometriosis treatment

Could the end of endometriosis pain be in sight?

It takes over seven years for an endometriosis diagnosis

Roughly 10% of childbearing-age women and people with wombs will experience endometriosis, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and 35% to 50% of women with pelvic pain and or infertility suffer from the disorder. Globally, endometriosis affects about 190 million women.

According to Endometriosis UK, this is the second most common gynaecological condition in the UK – but it can still take a shocking 7.5 years to be diagnosed with endometriosis.

With there still being no known cure for endometriosis, women around the globe are continuing to suffer in silence. Current treatment available for the condition mainly focuses on pain relief to stop impacts on daily life.

Although surgical removal of the lesions can improve fertility, the downside is that the lesions come back about half the time. More than 25% of endometriosis surgery patients need three or more operations, because it is hard to find all of the diseased tissue that needs to be removed.

Led by Oleh Taratula of the Oregon State University College of Pharmacy and Ov Slayden of the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University, new research exploring the use of nanoparticles to treat the endometriosis lesions has been released.

“Targeted nanoparticles” could treat endometriosis lesions

The animal-model study, has shown that the iron oxide nanoparticles, injected intravenously, act as a contrast agent – they accumulate in the lesions, making them easier to see by advanced imaging such as MRI.

And when exposed to an alternating magnetic field, a non-invasive procedure, the nanoparticles’ temperature soars to more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, high enough for lesion removal via heat.

“Endometriosis is a debilitating, systemic disease, and the need for an efficient, non-surgical method of removing the lesions is urgent,” Taratula said.

“We invented targeted nanoparticles with extraordinary heating capabilities that enable the use of magnetic hyperthermia for the safe and efficient elimination of endometriosis lesions.”

The endometrium is the innermost layer of the uterus, and endometriosis occurs when endometrium-like tissue forms lesions outside of the uterine cavity — usually involving the ovaries, the fallopian tubes and the tissue lining the pelvis.

Magnetic hyperthermia could be the future of endometriosis treatment

“Endometriosis is a non-malignant condition, but the lesions sometimes perforate organs, resulting in a life-threatening situation,” said Olena Taratula of the College of Pharmacy, who also collaborated on the study.

“Endometriosis is a non-malignant condition, but the lesions sometimes perforate organs, resulting in a life-threatening situation”

Magnetic hyperthermia had not previously been considered as a potential means of ablating endometriosis lesions, because other magnetic nanoparticles have relatively low heating efficiency. The nanoparticles could only get hot enough after being directly injected into diseased tissue, which is not a realistic approach for endometriosis treatment.

The collaboration that also included the College of Pharmacy’s Youngrong Park, Abraham Moses, Peter Do and Ananiya Demessie overcame that problem by developing hexagonal-shaped nanoparticles that have more than six times the heating efficiency of conventional spherical nanoparticles, when subjected to an alternating magnetic field.

The studies of mice with endometriotic tissue transplanted from macaques demonstrated the nanoparticles’ ability to eradicate the diseased cells following one session of magnetic hyperthermia.

“Furthermore, in collaboration with Khashayar Farsad from OHSU’s Dotter Interventional Institute, we showed the efficiency of the same nanoparticles as an MRI contrast agent,” Oleh Taratula said.

“This feature of the nanoparticles can aid in the diagnosis of endometriotic lesions by MRI before their exposure to the external alternating magnetic field.”


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