Background: Endometriosis (where endometrial-like tissue is found outside the uterus) affects ~ 176 million women worldwide and can lead to debilitating pelvic pain. There is an unmet need for new medical treatment options for endometriosis. Pelvic peritoneal mesothelial cells of women with endometriosis exhibit detrimental metabolic reprogramming that creates an environment favouring the formation and survival of endometriosis lesions. We have generated powerful preclinical proof-of-concept data to show that it is possible to correct this metabolic phenotype using dichloroacetate (DCA), a non-hormonal compound previously used to treat rare metabolic disorders in children. We plan a single-arm, open-label, single site exploratory clinical trial to inform the design of a future randomised controlled trial (RCT) to determine the efficacy of DCA for the treatment of endometriosis-associated pain.
Methods: We will recruit 30 women with endometriosis-associated pain over a 6-month period. All participants will receive approximately 6.25 mg/kg oral DCA capsules twice daily for 6 weeks, with a dose increase to approximately 12.5 mg/kg twice daily for a further 6 weeks if their pain has not been adequately controlled on this dose regime and side-effects are acceptable. If pain is adequately controlled with minimal side-effects, the lower dose will be continued for a further 6 weeks. The primary objective is to determine whether it is possible to achieve acceptable recruitment and retention rates within the defined exclusion and inclusion criteria. Secondary objectives are to determine the acceptability of the trial to participants, including the proposed methods of recruitment, treatment, follow-up frequency and number of questionnaires. The recruitment rate will be determined by the proportion of patients recruited from the pool of eligible women. The retention rate will be determined by the proportion of participants who attended the final trial visit.
Discussion: This is a feasibility study to explore effectiveness and acceptability of the proposed field methodology (recruitment, retention, study processes and compliance with treatment). The results will be used to inform the design of a future RCT.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04046081 Registered 6 August 2019.
Keywords: Chronic pelvic pain; Feasibility trial; Glycolysis; Gynaecology; Repurposing.