Methotrexate is one such form of treatment where the medicine is injected into the muscle and works to remove folate from the body to stop the ectopic pregnancy cells from dividing. This method of treatment, as opposed to surgery where the tube is typically removed, preserves the fallopian tube and enables a faster physical recovery time. The downside of methotrexate is it can have temporary side effects where the lady feels very ill. Methotrexate sometimes requires a second injection and is successful in 66-95% of cases depending upon the study.
A new study has found that using the lung cancer drug gefitinib in addition to the current drug methotrexate is more effective at helping treat an ectopic pregnancy than the conventional drug alone and could therefore reduce the need to remove the fallopian tube in a significant number of cases and would also reduce the need for a second methotrexate injection. The study, published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynaecology, involved a trial of 12 women with ectopic pregnancies.
A group of researchers, led by Dr Andrew Horne of the University of Edinburgh, now wants to run a large trial to prove their initial studies and make the use of gefitinib alongside methotrexate a standard treatment option for women in the future. The team aims to make treating ectopic pregnancies more effective using drugs rather than surgery to reduce the physical and emotional recovery times for women in the future. They are undertaking a clinical trial to test the new treatment and are keen to have input from women.
GEM3 is a multi-centre, double-blind, placebo-controlled randomised trial. This trial is seeking to establish whether medical treatment of ectopic pregnancy with the drug methotrexate is more effective when used in combination with the drug gefitinib. The study will be available at up to 50 centres across the UK.
Eligible patients will be offered the opportunity to be randomised to either the gefitinib or the placebo to be used in combination with the methotrexate. This involves taking one tablet a day for 7 days starting from the day the methotrexate is given, which is usually a single injection. Sites are now starting to open across the UK.
Currently open are:
The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
Ninewells Hospital, Dundee
Glasgow Royal Infirmary
Crosshouse Hospital, Kilmarnock
East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust
West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
Directly affected by ectopic pregnancy?
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