Endometriosis in Wall of Fallopian Tube | Image by Ed Uthman (Flickr)


Rapid endometriosis test on the brink of ending miserable eight-year average wait for diagnosis for millions

A rapid test to diagnose endometriosis has been developed, thanks to scientists in the Hull York Medical School at the University of Hull.

Women currently wait an average of eight years before they are diagnosed with the disease.

However, a simple urine test is being validated that will mean women no longer have to join long waiting lists for invasive examinations, currently used to diagnose the disease.

Dr Barbara Guinn, Reader in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Hull, has identified proteins that are increased in the urine of women suffering from endometriosis.

It is this discovery that will enable the development of the test, called EndoTect, that will take seconds to indicate whether endometriosis is the cause of the symptoms a patient is experiencing. The test can also indicate whether patients have deep or superficial endometriosis and monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

Barbara Guinn - 1900x800
Dr Barbara Guinn, Reader in Biomedical Science

Dr Guinn said: “The test will be capable of showing whether a patient has deep endometriosis or superficial endometriosis, which means they can get appropriate treatment. The test will mean people get treatment quickly. The sooner we treat endometriosis, the less difficult it will be to treat and the more effective the treatment. It will also end the current average eight year wait patients seeking answers face.”

Endometriosis, causes cells like the ones in the lining of the womb to infiltrate other parts of the body.

According to Dr Guinn, some patients have the cells in their nose or brain and can even suffer a monthly collapse of the lungs.

But the cells are more commonly found on the reproductive organs and bowel. Wherever they are they react to the menstrual cycle each month.

However, there is no way for the blood to leave the body. This can cause inflammation, pain, and the formation of scar tissue.

If untreated it can lead to organ damage and infertility.

Currently, women must be referred to a specialist clinic and have an invasive surgical procedure called a laparoscopy to be definitively diagnosed.

Dr Guinn says the condition causes emotional trauma, relationship difficulties and it can be hard for sufferers to hold down a job due to the pain experienced.

The disease affects 196 million women worldwide – that is roughly one in ten women. Dr Guinn says Endometriosis costs the UK economy £1.82 billion a year, in testing, doctors appointments, and loss of earnings.

Funding challenge

The University of Hull need to secure funding to ensure this urine test is validated so it can reach patients via their doctors surgery and Dr Guinn has found this process challenging.

However, a generous  local donor has offered £300k to help develop the urine test.

Dr Guinn said: “The money will help progress this work and encourage other funding bodies to invest in our research. We are delighted by the impact this funding will have on what we can achieve and the timescale in which we can achieve it.”

The process of validating the test involves assessing the biomarker and determining the range of conditions under which it will get the best results.

There are limited organisations that fund endometriosis research, and the field is competitive.

Dr Guinn, said: “It is so important we reach our goal and develop a reliable test that ends the misery of not knowing. Women often describe feeling gaslit by their doctors who tell them they need to learn to manage their pain. Women also share stories of how they tell a mother or an aunt about the pain they suffer with their periods, and they are told ‘that is how it is for me’. It normalises it. It would be hard to ignore or normalise endometriosis if the testing process were as simple as taking a pregnancy test. We must do all we can to make the diagnostic process as efficient as possible so women can seek appropriate treatment and support.”

Dr Guinn has a track record of making important discoveries that improve treatment outcomes for people. She identified the protein, which enable doctors treating Leukaemia patients to understand how aggressive the disease is. She is interested in identifying biomarkers in difficult to treat or diagnose diseases at the earliest possible stage.



Header image: (Flickr)

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