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Drug Promising for Ovary Syndrome

April 28, 1999

BOSTON (AP) _ An experimental drug that normalizes the body’s use of insulin appears to be a promising treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome, a common cause of infertility.

A study found that the treatment usually restores women’s ovulatory cycles while reversing hormonal imbalances and other effects of the condition.

Between 5 percent and 10 percent of women of reproductive age have polycystic ovary syndrome. Their ovaries are filled with small cysts, and they are often unable to menstruate. Other signs of the condition can include high insulin levels, obesity, high blood pressure and excessive facial hair resulting from unusually high testosterone levels.

Earlier studies have shown that drugs that treat insulin resistance _ the body’s failure to respond properly to insulin _ can relieve the condition. However, these drugs can have a variety of unwanted side effects.

In the new study, doctors found that a compound called D-chiro-iunositol, which occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables, appears effective without causing side effects.

The research was conducted by Dr. John E. Nestler and colleagues from Virginia Commonwealth University. It was published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.

They tested 44 women. Half got the drug, and half got dummy pills. After six to eight weeks of treatment, 86 percent on those on the drug ovulated, compared with 27 percent of those in the comparison group.

Those getting the drug also had improvements in their levels of insulin, blood sugar, blood pressure and testosterone.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development is funding a larger study of the drug’s safety and effectiveness. It is made by Insmed Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Richmond, Va.

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