Emerging and Ongoing Medication Research for Endometriosis
Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: March 2023 | Last updated: April 2023
Scientists are studying several potential new drugs for the treatment of endometriosis-related symptoms.
Relugolix is a Gn-RH antagonist in development. It works in a similar way to the drug elagolix (Orilissa). It quickly lowers the 2 most common hormones in women, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). In turn, this lowers estrogen in women.1-4
Gn-RH antagonists are molecules that lessen the effect of Gn-RH by binding to receptors in the pituitary gland. This prevents the receptor from sending a message to the ovaries to produce estrogen. Relugolix is a pill taken once a day. Scientists hope that relugolix could decrease that first increase in estrogen levels.1-4
The SPIRIT 2 clinical trials of relugolix by Myovant Sciences continue. Relugolix is also being studied as a treatment for uterine fibroids. It was also approved to treat advanced prostate cancer in December 2020.1-4
Linzagolix is an experimental oral drug made by ObsEva. Experts believe it eases the pain of endometriosis and uterine fibroids.5,6
Like Orlissa and relugolix, it is a Gn-RH antagonist. It works by stopping GnRH in the pituitary gland from binding to its receptors. This lowers estrogen levels. Experts also hope linzagolix will lower the initial hormonal surge other treatments cause, which also causes more pain.5,6
Researchers are studying how well linzagolix works at low and high doses. If results are good, dosing will be tailored to each person's needs. This could reduce the chances of side effects. It may also reduce the need for another drug to counter side effects such as bone loss or high cholesterol. Linzagolix is being studied in 2 Phase 3 clinical trials.5,6
Aromatase inhibitors decrease levels of estrogen in the body. Two examples of aromatase inhibitors are letrozole and anastrozole. These drugs are used by post-menopausal women with some forms of breast cancer. It is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for endometriosis. However, some doctors have started prescribing it for the condition.7,8
Data on its effectiveness in relieving endometriosis symptoms is not strong at this time. More studies are underway to see if endometriosis should be added to the list of uses for aromatase inhibitors. Clinical trials are required to get FDA approval for additional uses.7,8
This is not an exhaustive list of all drugs being researched for endometriosis. Ask your doctor about any new drugs and clinical trials that might be right for you.