PMS treatment research

Dr Thelma Lovick from University of Bristol and Dr Jonathan Fry from UCL

New research by British scientists shows that low doses of antidepressants could hold the key to easing PMS.

Curling up with a hot water bottle, some light exercise or a bar of chocolate does the trick for some, but a new scientific discovery by an international team of researchers could pave the way to developing a cure for premenstrual syndrome.

Dr Lovick, from the School of Physiology and Pharmacology at the University of Bristol, said: “The work is important because it introduces the possibility for targeted, intermittent therapy for PMS in women, with minimal side effects.”

Currently around 80 percent of women suffer from PMS, the symptoms of which include anxiety, irritability, fatigue, sleep deprivation and increased sensitivity to pain.

Scientists at the University of Bristol, University College Bristol and the University of Sao Paolo-Ribeirão Preto in Brazil, think the antidepressant Prozac could hold the key to preventing symptoms.

Prozac contains fluoxetine and it is now believed that low doses of the chemical could help soothe those suffering from monthly period pains.

PMS is caused by a hormone imbalance which occurs towards the end of the menstrual cycle – this imbalance causes a reaction similar to a drug withdrawal.

By experimenting on rats, scientists administered antidepressants to inhibit a specific enzyme to alleviate symptoms.

Human trials are expected to go ahead in Brazil, with scientists hoping to develop a drug which would be used specifically to treat PMS.

The findings appear in British Journal of Pharmacology.

The new research, a collaboration between Dr Thelma Lovick from the University of Bristol, Dr Jonathan Fry from UCL and Professor Marcus Brandão from the University of Sao Paolo-Ribeirão Preto in Brazil, was funded by the Medical Research Council in the UK and CNPq in Brazil.

More high resolution pictures are available on request. To discuss rates for using pictures and copy, contact news editor Tom Knight on 07815 004413 or tom@medavia.co.uk.

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