Endometriosis is a common inflammatory condition affecting 1 in 10 women (1.5 million in the UK), associated with painful periods, chronic pelvic pain, and infertility. It is believed to be due to tissue that resembles the lining of the womb sticking to areas outside the uterus, usually in the pelvis. Even though endometriosis affects a similar number of women in the UK as diabetes (which can be diagnosed simply with blood tests), diagnosing endometriosis often results in multiple GP and A&E visits, multiple scans and often surgery to confirm the diagnosis. As a result, there is an average delay of approximately 8 years to get a diagnosis of endometriosis, a figure that has not improved in the last decade. One of the main reasons for this delay is the lack of non-invasive tests capable of detecting all endometriosis subtypes (ovarian, superficial, and deep disease). This issue has resulted in the public, MPs and charities across the UK calling for research to improve doctors’ ability to diagnose endometriosis more quickly and simply, allowing women to seek appropriate treatment sooner. A report by an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Endometriosis, as well as the Vision statement for a Women’s Health Strategy for England, recently highlighted these diagnostic shortcomings and commitment to drive down diagnosis times.
Endometriosis experts at the Endometriosis CaRe Centre, Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health, University of Oxford, have joined with Serac Healthcare Ltd, a British life sciences company to investigate whether an experimental imaging marker (⁹⁹ᵐTc maraciclatide) that binds to areas of inflammation can be used in endometriosis to visualise the disease on a scan. The imaging marker has been used for detecting inflammation in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis in other research studies across the UK, EU and USA.
Professor Christian Becker, who is Co-Director of the Endometriosis CaRe Centre in Oxford together with Professor Krina Zondervan, Head of Department at the Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health, University of Oxford, will lead this initial study on women due to have planned surgery for suspected endometriosis. Two to seven days before their operation, participants will be invited for an imaging scan which will compare the suspected locations of disease detected on the scan and in surgery to confirm whether this imaging test could be an effective non-invasive method of detecting all endometriosis subtypes.
The potential strengths of the scan lie in the way the imaging marker binds to areas of inflammation, which may allow doctors to distinguish between new and old lesions and detect endometriosis in areas not easily seen during surgery such as the lung. The development of a 20-minute imaging test would reduce the need for repeated visits to doctors, for repeated investigations, and for invasive surgery to obtain a diagnosis. This would ultimately reduce the time taken to confirm or exclude endometriosis.
Prof Becker said: ‘There is an urgent unmet clinical need for a non-invasive marker to identify or rule out endometriosis as it is such a very common disease affecting more than 190 million women worldwide’.
Prof Zondervan added: ‘This study highlights that close collaborations between academics, clinicians and industry are important to combine and accelerate discovery and innovation in addressing high-priority areas in women’s health such as endometriosis’ ‘
Mr David Hail, CEO of Serac Healthcare said ‘We are excited about the potential of 99mTc-maraciclatide to diagnose endometriosis non-invasively and delighted to be working with the internationally renowned team at Oxford on this important first study.’
Maraciclatide is for investigational use only and is not approved by the FDA or UK and European regulatory authorities.
About Serac Healthcare Ltd
Serac Healthcare is a clinical radiopharmaceutical company with deep expertise in discovering, developing and commercialising innovative molecular imaging technologies. Using these targeted technologies to underpin personalised medicine in the fields of endometriosis and inflammatory arthritis, Serac Healthcare is focused on bringing to market effective tools to accelerate diagnosis, and to deliver earlier and more effective treatment decisions. Serac Healthcare is a wholly owned subsidiary of Serac Life Sciences Ltd. www.serachealthcare.com
For further information on Serac Healthcare, contact David Hail, email@example.com
The ‘Assessment of integrin expression in endometriosis’ study is sponsored by the University of Oxford and funded by Serac Healthcare Ltd who are also providing the experimental imaging marker ⁹⁹ᵐTc Maraciclatide.
how to gET INVOLVED
Oxford University researching a 20-minute imaging test to diagnose endometriosis
You may be eligible to participate in a new research study conducted by researchers at Oxford University aiming to diagnose endometriosis with new innovative imaging techniques.
Although endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women, most women experience a delay in diagnosis of approximately 8 years. One reason for this is that current imaging methods are not able to diagnose the most common type of endometriosis, therefore we are still heavily reliant on surgery. The development of a non-invasive imaging test would make the diagnosis of endometriosis quicker, more accurate and would reduce the need for invasive surgery.
Can you participate?
Volunteers should be
- Awaiting surgery to diagnose or treat suspected or confirmed endometriosis within the Oxford University Hospital Trust, UK
- Over 18 years old
- Able to attend an imaging scan 2-7 days before your surgery
What does the study involve?
1) A 20-minute imaging test 2-7 days before your surgery.
2) Optional small tissue samples taken during surgery
3) Optional surveys asking about your experience with methods to diagnose endometriosis, your family planning choices, and your experience with the new imaging test
Why should you consider getting involved?
By participating in this study, you will help to improve our understanding of endometriosis and will help us to develop an imaging test that could improve the lives of other women with endometriosis.
How can you get involved?
If you would like to participate in this study, please contact the research team on firstname.lastname@example.org