A study by Scottish and Australian scientists has found that a drug called gefitinib could be used to treat ectopic pregnancy. This could mean women could avoid surgery and have a greater chance at a future healthy pregnancy.
The drug gefitinib is most commonly used to treat lung cancer,.
An ectopic pregnancy is when an embryo is implanted in the fallopian tube. If detected early, it can usually be treated with drugs, but if it is discovered late then women have to undergo surgery.
During surgery, the egg is removed. But, if the woman’s fallopian tube has been damaged or ruptured, it may also need to be removed.
If a woman’s fallopian tube is damaged and has to be removed, her chances of having a successful pregnancy following the surgery are reduced.
According to the BBC, 12,000 women have an ectopic pregnancy each year in the UK. It is responsible for 80% of pregnancy-related deaths.
The hypothesis behind using gefitinib to treat late discoveries of ectopic pregnancy is that it blocks a protein that encourages cell growth. This same protein is found in women who suffer from ectopic pregnancies.
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Melbourne published research in the Obstetrics and Gynecology journal saying that combining gefitinib with traditional ectopic pregnancy drug treatment could reduce the need to remove the fallopian tube in a lot of cases.