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Women’s Health

Endometriosis and Testosterone: What’s the Link?

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For women with endometriosis, a game changer may be on the horizon. In 10 percent of women of childbearing age, endometriosis is a painful condition in which endometrial-like tissue grows outside the uterus on other organs such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestines, and the outer walls of the uterus. Endometriosis is extremely difficult to identify: it takes women an average of 7 to 10 years to get an accurate diagnosis.

A new study published in Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health in March 2021 could shorten this lag time and point the way to a new treatment with testosterone. Two of the authors of the first study produced a related review of medical literature that was published in the May 2021 issue of Evolutionary Applications, entitled “Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Are Diametral Disorders”. The first study suggests that endometriosis is related to fetuses that develop in mothers with too little testosterone. The second suggests that PCOS is related to the absorption of too much testosterone in the uterus.

CONNECTED: 14 celebrities talk about endometriosis

Hormone imbalance can begin in the womb

When examining the male sex hormone in women, the team reviewed a large number of existing literature in many disciplines and found that women with endometriosis were more likely to develop as fetuses in mothers with low testosterone levels compared to women without the disease. “Low exposure to testosterone in developing women appears to result in persistently low levels of ovarian testosterone relative to estradiol levels,” said Natalie Dinsdale, a PhD student in evolutionary biology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada. Translation: A deficiency or deficiency of testosterone in the uterus can determine the hormonal stage for later development of endometriosis.

“This imbalance has a number of beneficial effects [endometriosis-like] Lesion growth. Testosterone is generally an immune system suppressor and also an inhibitor of inflammation, ”says Dinsdale, noting that“ the immune system and its inflammatory response are very active in endometriosis ”.

The testosterone endometriosis connection

Testosterone wasn’t a prime suspect in developing endometriosis mainly because it was overlooked. “When you think of a women’s disease, a male hormone wouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind. And endometriosis is so estrogen-driven, ”says Dinsdale.

CONNECTED: The secrets of testosterone

Researchers were asked to track the role of testosterone following the publication in Human Reproduction of October 2016 of an analysis of deep infiltrating endometriosis (DIE), which suggested a link between the disease, prenatal hormone exposure, and short anogenital distance, an anatomical one Measurement that was considered to be a marker of exposure to uterine hormones. Another study published in Human Reproduction in June 2020 also found a strong association with this type of anatomy size and endometriosis.

The area around an adult’s genitals tells doctors about their exposure to hormones as a developing fetus

The term anogenital distance refers to the distance between the anus and genitals. “The anogenital distance is an anatomical measurement that has been shown to be closely related to prenatal testosterone levels. This series of studies [published in Human Reproduction] showed a very clear and powerful effect that women with endometriosis had a short anogenital distance, which indicates low prenatal testosterone levels, ”says study co-author Bernard Crespi, PhD, professor of life sciences at Simon Fraser University.

Less testosterone means more pain

One of the primary symptoms of endometriosis is severe pain, which can also be explained by low testosterone levels in the uterus. The researchers wrote in their article on evolution, medicine, and public health that levels of prenatal hormone exposure could affect pain sensitivity: “In women, testosterone decreases pain perception and estradiol increases it, and in rats, testosterone increases pain thresholds and the androgen receptor antagonist flutamide decreases you. Female rats treated with testosterone before birth also show similar pain responses as untreated men, indicating that pain sensitivity is partially programmed during early development. “

CONNECTED: The Top Endometriosis Instagrammers – And Why They Matter

Compilation of new diagnostic tools to improve endometriosis diagnosis

“We have seen that low testosterone levels in the uterus is an indicator, but it is not enough to say that this is the cause of this condition. However, it can become an important clue that doctors can use to help suspect endometriosis earlier, ”says Dinsdale, noting that women with the condition also have other characteristics associated with relatively lower testosterone compared to estrogen, such as z. B. faster ovarian aging and lower waist to hip ratio, lower body mass index and early menopause.

The indicators could help clinicians narrow down whether or not a woman has endometriosis. “With the kind of work we’ve put together, you could potentially examine a number of predictive factors such as anogenital distance and various hormones. If a woman is experiencing severe pain or bleeding similar to endometriosis, information about these various factors can be gathered and this would probably give you a pretty good idea of ​​the likelihood of the patient suffering from endometriosis. This could reduce the need for unnecessary laparoscopy, ”she adds.

CONNECTED: Testosterone and Women’s Health

Potential New Treatment Options for Endometriosis

Women have previously been treated for endometriosis with synthetic testosterone products such as testosterone enanthate, an androgen, and an anabolic steroid, which are normally used on men who do not produce enough testosterone but who took on the side effects of emerging male characteristics (such as facial hair, decreased voice, breast reduction) it is untenable for most women.

The Challenge: Find Out How To Increase Testosterone Levels In Women With Endo – Without causing side effects

Researchers are currently working on new ways to get the effects of higher testosterone without the serious androgenic side effects. “There would be a way to increase testosterone levels so that these side effects aren’t triggered,” says Dr. Crespi.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Is involved too

Another interesting outcome of the study was the discovery that PCOS is the opposite disorder to endometriosis, as the disorders appear to be largely caused by opposite prenatal and postnatal testosterone levels. It is the opposite of endometriosis in that women with PCOS were more likely to have developed in the uterus with too much testosterone.

Closing the hormone “blind spot”

“It is very common for researchers to focus on estrogen as the female hormone and testosterone as the male hormone. In reality, both hormones are vital in all humans. I applaud the authors for going beyond this binary hormonal blind spot. And to study the full spectrum of steroids that can affect women’s health, “said Ben Trumble, PhD, assistant professor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University at Tempe, in a press release. Dr. Trumble was not involved in these studies.

Women’s Health

Israeli CEO seeks quantum of solace for women’s diseases – Sponsored Content

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Severe stomach pain. Nausea. Fatigue. Infertility. These are just some of the symptoms that millions of women with endometriosis suffer – an incurable disease caused when tissue that lines the uterus grows elsewhere in the abdomen.

Shahar Keinan, the Israeli CEO of Polaris Quantum Biotech, is working with another female CEO in the field to use superfast quantum computers to find a cure for endometriosis that doctors estimate affects around 10% of women worldwide.

“This will help bring drugs to market quickly, especially in areas that have long been neglected,” says Keinan of her company’s new partnership with Californian Auransa Inc., which is using artificial intelligence to find new treatments . “This really solves an unmet need.”

The two companies will also work together to find treatments and cures for ovarian and breast cancer and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

“I believe that we will be able to combine our individual expertise in biology and chemistry to develop high quality solutions for these very difficult to control or neglected diseases that affect women’s health,” says Pek Lum, Auransa’s CEO.

Solutions to these diseases are just a fraction of what Polarisqb, a North Carolina-based quantum computing startup, is researching in the fast-growing field of computational chemistry, where scientists use computer models instead of laboratory equipment to identify new compounds that stop or prevent can disease.

The technology, which is dramatically accelerating drug development, holds great promise in areas that are still under-researched – such as women’s health – and rare diseases, where drug companies often have poor return on investment.

Polarisqb is currently conducting an investment round. Private investors can find out more about OurCrowd and participate.

Traditional laboratory-based drug development methods are now becoming more expensive. Each new drug costs about $ 1 billion on average, a price that includes the many failed trials and studies, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. The costs are passed on to the patients.

The quantum computing used by Polarisqb calculates up to 10,000 times faster than conventional computers, helps to make more drugs available faster and at lower prices, and to reduce the average time to market for a drug from 10 to seven years, says Keinan.

To test the concept, Polarisqb’s scientists built on previous Novartis laboratory research on dengue fever, which it took about four years to identify molecules that could stop the disease that causes nausea, rash and limb pain, and in patients can be fatal about 25% of the cases. Although there is a vaccine for certain age groups, it can only be given to people who have had the virus in the past. The virus infects up to 400 million people worldwide every year.

“We were able to use our platform and identify the same molecules from a library of billions in less than a minute. We also use the system to identify new molecules in order to overcome the problems with the old ones, ”said Keinan. The company will now commercialize these molecules to pharmaceutical companies.

The same work can be done with conventional computers, but “it’s a long and complicated operation,” says Keinan, and it would not save much compared to laboratory research. “We were looking for something faster and more efficient to be able to scale.”

Quantum computers allow the system to do super-fast calculations to figure out which molecules are best to use and quickly eliminate those that don’t work.

The platform works by scanning computer models of billions of different molecules. It identifies the molecules that could treat a particular disease by attacking and stopping the activity of a particular protein that changes the course of the disease. In cancer, certain molecules could stop the cancer cells’ DNA from replicating. In viruses, certain molecules could stop the replication of the RNA.

“Finding these molecules will stop the disease,” says Keinan, adding that these molecules then become prescriptions or blueprints for drugs.

“We’re just trying to find the perfect molecule or key that fits exactly into the protein’s keyhole,” she says.

Polarisqb used a digital annealer, a quantum-inspired technology developed by Fujitsu that is able to perform parallel optimization calculations in real time with a speed, precision and size that is unmatched by classical computing. The collaboration with Fujitsu expands the number of molecules sought from 10 million to trillions of molecules and thus increases the probability of finding new, useful drug candidates.

“The new solution from Polarisqb and Fujitsu shortens the time frame for drug discovery and lead optimization from up to 48 months to just eight months,” says Alex Brown, Drug Discovery Consultant at Fujitsu.

Traditionally, scientists have done this in laboratories and conducted experiments to exclude molecules or find effective ones. But this process of trial and error is lengthy and costly, and one of the reasons why the average drug takes about a decade to develop.

“Either you do it slowly and very expensive,” says Keinan. “Or you find a new technology; and we do. “

You can find more information about investing in Polaris Quantum Biotech HERE.

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Women’s Health

Why a former Ro exec set out to start her own digital health startup

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Rachel Blank left Ro last year to start Allara. The startup focuses on helping women cope with PCOS and other complex diseases. Image credit: Allara

After serving two years as Director of Strategy for Digital Health Unicorn Ro, Rachel Blank set out last year to start a new company based on her own health experiences.

In September, she founded Allara Health with the aim of helping women treat polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition that affects an estimated one in ten women. It’s a common cause of infertility, but it affects much more than that – a large percentage of people with PCOS are also insulin resistant, and the condition is also linked to anxiety and depression.

In most cases, it takes years to diagnose and little is known about what actually causes the disease.

Blank found this out from personal experience. She was diagnosed with PCOS 10 years ago after dealing with unexplained health problems for years.

“That was not only a surprise, but especially for me because I grew up the daughter of a gynecologist,” she said in a Zoom interview. “Even when I was diagnosed, I didn’t feel like I ever made a good path in the healthcare system. I never knew where to go, which doctors to see, what to do. I found doctors very dismissive or said things like, ‘If you’re not trying to get pregnant, I don’t really know what to do for you.’ “

The pandemic spurred her to think more about her health and she started doing her own research. She found large communities of women on the internet trying to put together the same questions she was faced with.

“That was that big aha moment for me,” she said. “I can bring in not only my personal experience, but also my professional experience in the field of digital health and, to be honest, build something better.”

Blank is no stranger to women’s health. While at Ro, she ran one of the company’s direct-to-consumer brands, Rory, which offered prescription and wellness treatments for menopausal women. Before that, she worked as an investor for General Catalyst.

At Allara, her goal is to focus more on improving access to specialized treatments, an area that is often overlooked by other women’s health startups that are more focused on primary care or fertility.

“Where I saw this massive void was the specialty care,” she said. “What to do if you not only need contraception but are also not ready for IVF? There is really nowhere you can go in traditional healthcare or digital healthcare right now. “

The New York startup offers virtual visits to gynecologists and endocrinologists as well as nutritional advice and coaching. You also have the option of ordering diagnostics such as a blood test or medication if necessary. Allara currently charges a $ 125 monthly subscription model for all of its services, although going forward, Blank said the company plans to offer it as an employee benefit and offer more point solutions.

Allara currently operates in six states but hopes to be in all 50 states by the end of the year. The company has started visiting patients in the past few months. Around 35,000 women have either signed up for the service or expressed their interest.

In the longer term, Blank hopes to expand to other, often overlooked diseases such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids.

“This motivates me and motivates my entire team to understand the massive impact we have not only on a woman’s everyday life and her daily feelings, but also on her health outcomes,” she said, “.

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Women’s Health

County needs a trauma-informed facility for female inmates

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On Tuesday, June 15, the Travis County Commissioners Court will vote on whether or not to approve a $ 4.3 million design services contract for the proposed Travis County Trauma Informed Women’s Facility Project. The design of the project is influenced by the tremendous efforts of an advisory committee that issued recommendations based on months of work with interviews with female inmates and research into best practices.

The purpose of this project is not to increase detention capacity; Rather, it is about replacing outdated and inefficient facilities and building a holistic facility that houses female inmates in one building, with access to on-site gender-specific medical services, trauma-informed care and counseling, psychosocial support system, vocational training and other programs.

This project is the first of many outlined in Travis County’s current prison facilities master plan, which suggests that at least seven buildings in the prison complex are in disrepair and have been in use for longer than originally intended. I do not support the replacement of all of these buildings. I support the proposed women’s facility that addresses the needs of women from a trauma-informed perspective. If women were placed in a facility with only women and their medical needs attended to, the facility would be safer for women and the officials who protect them.

In addition, a facility that enables the continuous supply of mental health and vocational training services can begin to address the core issues related to the social determinants of health critical to the inmate’s rehabilitation and ensure successful re-entry into the to ease society after they have served their time.

Many prisoners have a background of poverty. The simple fact is that for people living near the poverty line, the prison is the primary place for mental health and medical care. I am not happy about this, but as a Travis County Commissioner, it is my duty to provide for the primary needs of the people who are in our care. I will not fail to improve the existing services without a specific program to replace these much-needed services.

The best of intentions without the appropriate resources can withhold necessary treatment options from members of the community. Lawyers who oppose the Women’s Facility Project fail to recognize the complexities of the issues or the fact that neither the state nor the local government has invested in the necessary resources to provide mental health services outside of prison. Travis County needs more access to drug beds and services for commonly diagnosed mental health problems.

I support parallel efforts to increase these services and provide more distraction, and I am ready to work with anyone who can help solve these complex problems; However, I cannot support pursuing this work at the expense of providing trauma-informed services to incarcerated women who, for various reasons, remain in our prison and under our care.

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