New Discovery Takes Scientists Closer To Finding A Cure For Endometriosis

New Discovery Takes Scientists Closer To Finding A Cure For Endometriosis

A team of U.K researchers have made significant strides into discovering a suspected cause for endometriosis, which could pave the way towards a cure for the debilitating condition.

U.K scientists seem to finally have discovered a suspected cause for endometriosis, a painful lifelong condition that affects 10 to 15% of all reproducing persons. There is currently no definitive for the condition, wherein endometrial tissue, similar to the lining of the womb, starts to grow in other places like ovaries and fallopian tubes. A team comprised of researchers from Warwick and Edinburgh Universities has found that the answer might lie in macrophages - a kind of white blood cell. Macrophages that have either mutated or undergone some change are now suspected to be a prime cause of endometriosis. 


Endometriosis is most common in women in their 30s or 40s, and can cause persistent inflammation, pain, and infertility as well as debilitatingly painful periods and ovulation. Moreover, the condition is famously difficult to diagnose, so statistics about women suffering from endometriosis can be inconclusive. "Today, the disease is mainly diagnosed surgically," explained researcher Merli Saare. "In general, patients have to undergo a laparoscopic procedure in which lesions are surgically removed from the abdominal cavity. Small pieces of this tissue are taken for histological analysis that helps to confirm the diagnosis." While the disease can be managed using surgery to remove lesions and hormonal treatments to offer relief from symptoms, there is currently no known cure. 


Results of a new study published in the FASEB Journal could change this. The aim of the new study "was to determine the mechanistic role of macrophages in producing pain associated with endometriosis." Macrophages adapt their functions according to local signals and so become modified by disease. They are drawn more to the endometriosis lesions and are also found in high numbers inside the lesions themselves. Researchers ran various tests on mice and suggested that targeting the altered macrophages could be a new way of treating endometriosis pain. Senior study author Dr. Erin Greaves, told Medical News Today that conventional treatments that use hormones are "not ideal" because they target ovarian function and can trigger side effects, such as suppressing fertility. "We are trying to find non-hormonal solutions," she said. More research has also revealed that macrophages help nerves grow in the lesions. 


Previous studies have shown that macrophages can be involved in other types of chronic pain, but this is the first time that it has been shown to be linked to endometriosis. Greaves stated, "Endometriosis is sometimes considered a 'hidden disorder' because of a reluctance to discuss what can be passed off as 'women's problems'." She added that learning about the role of macrophages in endometriosis was crucial to targeting new forms of treatment. "Endometriosis can affect women throughout their lives and is a very common condition." she said. "This discovery will go some way towards finding ways to relieve symptoms for women who suffer from endometriosis. We hope that in the future we can learn exactly how disease-modified macrophages in endometriosis promote disease and how we can target them in order to treat endometriosis."

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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