The menopausal period in women is often uncomfortable due to the appearance of hot flashes. The woman feels a lot of heat in her body, and can even get drenched in the subsequent sweating. Frequent hot flashes could keep the woman grounded during this time. HRT has been used to supplement the reducing estrogen levels and relieve the symptoms. Some women, however, cannot take HRT if they are at risk for breast cancer or blood clots. Other medications are also available, but are associated with side effects.
‘A new medication will hopefully be useful to treat frequent hot flashes associated with menopause in women who cannot take hormonal replacement therapy.’
Researchers tested a new compound, currently named MLE4901, in women who suffered from more than seven hot flashes per day. The compound acts by blocking the NK3 receptors through which a brain chemical called neurokinin B (NKB) acts. The levels of neurokinin B (NKB) have been found to be high in the brain tissue of menopausal women.
The study included 37 women, out of which 28 completed the trial. The women were between 40 and 62 years of age and did not have a period in at least the previous year. They did not receive any other treatment for their hot flashes for at least 8 weeks before the study. Around half of them received a daily dose of 80 mg for 4 weeks, and a placebo for another 4 weeks with a gap of two weeks in between. The other half had the placebo first and then the drug.
The researchers found that:
- The number of hot flashes reduced by almost 73%
- The severity and impact of the hot flashes including that on sleep also reduced
- Side effects were minimal. Three women experienced rise in a liver enzyme, which normalized within 90 days of stopping treatment
The study was conducted in a small number of women. Studies in larger populations can help to establish the efficacy and safety of the drug before it can be introduced into the market.
- Prague JK et al. Neurokinin 3 receptor antagonism as a novel treatment for menopausal hot flushes: a phase 2, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The Lancet. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30823-1