March 14 (UPI) -- Scientists have discovered a new class of experimental drugs reduce the severity and number of hot flushes from menopause by one-third within three days.
Imperial College London researchers re-analyzed data from a previous clinical trial, finding that the drug MLE4901 improved sleep and concentration, in addition to reducing hot flushes, within three days of starting treatment.
The new findings were published Monday in the journal Menopause.
"We already knew this compound could be a game-changer for menopausal women, and get rid of three-quarters of their hot flushes in four weeks," Dr. Waljit Dhillo, a professor in the Department of Medicine at ICL, said in a press release. "But this new analysis confirms the beneficial effect is obtained very quickly -- within just three days."
Dhillo said this specific compound will not be taken further in trials because of side effects that may affect liver function. Two similar drugs have entered larger patient trials, with one such trial started in the United States last year.
The trial involved 37 menopausal women between ages 40 and 62 who experienced seven or more hot flushes a day.
Participants received an 80mg daily dose of MLE4901 or a placebo for four weeks. Then, they switched to receive the other tablet for another four weeks.
Researchers found that MLE4901 reduced hot flush severity by 72 percent and frequency by 38 percent.
Researchers believe the experimental compounds block the action of a brain chemical called neurokinin B, or NKB, which activates temperature control areas within the brain
"As NKB has many targets of action within the brain the potential for this drug class to really improve many of the symptoms of the menopause, such as hot flushes, difficulty sleeping, weight gain, and poor concentration, is huge," study author Dr. Julia Prague said. "To see the lives of our participants change so dramatically and so quickly was so exciting, and suggests great promise for the future of this new type of treatment."
In menopause, estrogen levels fall around 45 to 55 years of age in women. This brings on menopausal flushing and/or sweating. Previously, women have been treated with hormone replacement therapy, which contains estrogen and may increase the relative risk of breast cancer and blood clots.
"This class of new drugs may provide women with a much-needed alternative to HRT," Dhillo said.