Lung cancer drug gefitinib could be given to women with ectopic pregnancies in a bid to help them avoid surgery.
A joint study by researchers in Edinburgh and Melbourne, Australia, found that combining gefitinib with existing treatment was more effective at curing the condition.
An ectopic pregnancy is when an embryo implants in the Fallopian tube.
It can be treated with drugs if identified early, but surgery is needed when it is more developed.
The study, published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynaecology, involved a trial of 12 women.
Lung cancer drug gefitinib could be given to women with ectopic pregnancies in a bid to help them avoid surgery
Gefitinib, usually used to treat lung cancer, blocks a protein that is known to encourage cell growth, and which was found to be present in high levels at the site of ectopic pregnancies.
Scientists from the Edinburgh University’s medical research council centre for reproductive health, and the University of Melbourne, suggested that combining gefitinib with the conventional treatment – called methotrexate – could reduce the need to remove the Fallopian tube in a significant number of cases.
They said this would help a patient’s level of fertility.
The researchers also found that the drug combination was able to shorten the time it took to successfully treat ectopic pregnancies in women who did not need surgery.
Dr. Andrew Horne, who led the study, said: “An ectopic pregnancy can be extremely stressful for the woman involved.
“If we can reduce the need for surgery, and thereby help fertility levels, then that would be an enormous benefit.
“Reducing the treatment time for women who do not need surgery would also have a significant impact in reducing the emotional stress of such a diagnosis.”
Researchers now plan to run a larger trial.
Two Swedish women could be able to give birth using the wombs in which they were carried, doctors say, hailing the world’s first mother-to-daughter uterus transplants.
The weekend procedures were completed by more than 10 surgeons at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg.
The names of the patients have not been revealed.
Doctors caution they will not consider the operations successful unless the women achieve pregnancy.
Two Swedish women could be able to give birth using the wombs in which they were carried
“We are not going to call it a complete success until this results in children,” said Michael Olausson, one of the Swedish surgeons told The Associated Press.
“That’s the best proof.”
Both women started in-vitro fertilization before the surgery, he said, adding that their frozen embryos will be thawed and transferred if the women are considered in good enough health after a year-long observation period.
Both recipients, who are aged in their 30s, were tired after the surgery but recovering well, said the university in a statement.
One had her uterus removed due to cervical cancer and the other was born without a uterus, they added
“The donating mothers are up and walking and will be discharged from the hospital within a few days,” said Mats Brannstrom, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the university.
He is the leader of a research team – comprising 20 scientists, doctors and specialists – which has been working on the project since 1999.
Turkish doctors said they had performed a successful uterus transplant last year, giving a womb from a deceased donor to a young woman, but Dr. Michael Olausson said he was not sure whether the recipient had yet started undergoing fertility treatment.
The first widely reported womb transplant from a live donor was performed in 2000, in Saudi Arabia, but the organ had to be removed three months later because of a blood clot.
Last year, 56-year-old Eva Ottoson, who lives in Nottinghamshire, said she hoped to become the first woman to have her womb transplanted into her daughter, Sara, 25, who lives in Sweden and was born without reproductive organs.
It remains unknown whether they were involved in the weekend’s procedures.