New NKB Inhibitors May Mean New Menopause Treatments

New medicines may mean the end of menopausal hot flashes.

Scientists at the Imperial College London have tested a new class of experimental drugs that help to reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes in menopausal women by almost 75 percent in only three days.

The research was a new analysis of data gathered through a 2017 clinical trial.

The Imperial College London researchers found that these new medications also improved sleep and the ability to focus for users in the three-day period.

Thirty-seven menopausal women between 40 and 62 years old who experienced seven or more hot flashes per day participated in the original, randomized, double-blind trial.

Participants in the test group were given an 80mg daily dose of the drug MLE4901, while participants in the control group received a placebo during the first four weeks of the eight-week trial.

During the second four weeks of the study, the researchers gave the test group the placebo and the control group the MLE4901.

The results of the study showed that the MLE4901 greatly reduced the average number of hot flashes during the four-week period. The severity of the hot flashes was also reduced in comparison to the hot flashes participants experienced when taking the placebo.

The study shows that MLE4901 has a notable effect within three days. 

But while the study showed the benefits of MLE4901 to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes, the drug will not advance into further trials because of potential negative impact on the liver.

All hope is not lost for women going through the change, however. Two other drugs that act similarly to MLE4901 but do not have the same health risks have recently entered clinical trials.

Researchers believe that MLE4901 and the two other drugs going to trial reduce hot flash frequency by preventing neurokinin B, a brain chemical, from stimulating the temperate-control areas of the brain.

Earlier research and human trials have revealed that higher levels of NKB can cause hot flashes.

The results of the MLE4901 study also show that the medication was new data also revealed that the drug was as effective at reducing the number of daytime hot flashes of participants as well as nighttime occurrences. Participants reported an 82 percent decrease in the number of sleep interruptions caused by hot flashes and a 77 percent decrease in interference with their ability to concentrate.

Menopause occurs when a woman has stopped menstruating for 12 consecutive months and usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. Many women who experience menopause report physiological changes such as insomnia, weight gain, sweating and changes in hair and skin quality.

Women in menopause also experience hot flashes, a sudden feeling of feverish heat. For many women, hot flashes are a mild inconvenience, but for others, hot flashes are severe - especially when they occur frequently and impact sleep.

"Some women can experience hot flashes upwards of 30 times per day," said Dr. Mona Alqulali, F.A.C.O.G., Ph.D.

Alqulali is a Bettendorf, Iowa, OB-GYN.

"Women who experience very frequent or severe hot flashes report that their hot flashes negatively impact their work, relationships and activities," Alqulali said.

The Imperial College London researchers say that the NKB-inhibiting medications need further testing and trials to determine if their benefits are caused by their impact on the brain or if improvements in sleep and concentration were a result of fewer instances of hot flashes. The researchers hope that the NKB-inhibiting medications could serve as a viable alternative treatment to hormone-replacement therapy

"Not all women can tolerate hormone-replacement therapy or are willing to undergo hormone treatment because of health risks associated with it," said Alqulali.

Hormone-replacement therapy, although a conventional treatment for menopause, can increase the risk of developing breast cancer and blood clots.



Imperial College London. "New class of menopause drugs reduces number and severity of hot flushes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2018.


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