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New drug may improve fertility in women with reproductive health problems

 

A new drug may be used to effectively treat a range of reproductive conditions in women that affect fertility, a study funded by the NIHR has found.

The drug, called MVT-602, targets the natural ‘kisspeptin’ hormone system in the body to stimulate reproductive hormones that affect fertility, sexual development and menstruation.

In the study, 24 women were injected with the drug, which induced more potent signalling of the kisspeptin system over a longer period of time than the naturally occurring kisspeptin-54 (KP54), which helps ovulation. 

The research found that MVT-602 lasts longer in the body than natural kisspeptin, and as a result may be used to effectively treat a range of reproductive conditions that affect fertility such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – a common condition that affects how a woman's ovaries work – and hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) – a condition where a woman’s periods stop.

Professor Waljit Dhillo, lead author, NIHR Research Professor in Endocrinology and Metabolism at Imperial College London and Consultant in Endocrinology at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said:

“Our previous work showed that kisspeptin can be used to stimulate ovulation in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment, but there are some limitations on using the naturally occurring kisspeptin hormone as its effectiveness wears off after a few hours. This study suggests that MVT-602 can stimulate kisspeptin over a longer period of time with no side effects, which means we could potentially use it to treat a wider range of reproductive disorders. This is an early stage study and more research needs to be carried out to fully determine the effects of MVT-602 on more patients.”

Dr Ali Abbara, NIHR Clinician Scientist at Imperial College London and Consultant in Endocrinology at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, who co-led the work added: 

“This is the first study to show that a single dose of MVT-602 can induce a longer duration of hormonal stimulation in women than naturally occurring kisspeptin. Therefore, it reveals exciting potential to treat a range of reproductive health conditions using MVT-602 and offer women improved treatment options. However, further research is needed to fully characterise its effects in specific disorders that affect reproductive health.”

The study found that all of the women given MVT-602 had a longer duration of raised reproductive hormones, specifically luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone levels, than when they received native kisspeptin. The duration of LH rise was extended by approximately four times using MVT-602.The researchers will now aim to carry out further studies on the effects of MVT-602 on women with reproductive disorders.

The study was funded by NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) and an NIHR Research Professorship and Clinician Scientist Award. Clinician Scientist Awards have now been replaced by NIHR Advanced Fellowships.