Potential new target for treating endometriosis discovered

Potential new target for treating endometriosis discovered

Researchers have identified a potential target to treat a painful and invasive form of endometriosis.

Endometriosis, particularly the kind associated with the ARID1A mutation, can be debilitating for many women and can often lead to infertility. Researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) have now identified a genetic target for this type of endometriosis.

The study, which has been published in the journal Cell Reports, could potentially lead to better treatments for women living with this form of endometriosis. Mike Wilson, a postdoctoral fellow in the MSU College of Human Medicine, and Jake Reske, a graduate student in the MSU Genetics and Genome Sciences Program, are first authors of the study.

Genetic targets

When the gene ARID1A is mutated “super-enhancers” a part of the DNA that determines the function of cells, run wild, allowing the cells that normally line the uterus to form deep implants outside the uterus and cause severe pelvic pain.

Reske and Wilson tested a drug targeted a protein in the cells called P300. It appeared to target the super enhancers and stop the spread of endometriosis. The drug is part of a new type of treatment called “epigenetic therapy” that controls how genes are expressed, and could be far more effective than current treatments, including surgery, hormone therapy, and pain management.

“It can seriously impact women’s quality of life and their ability to have a family and work,” said Ronald Chandler, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynaecology, and reproductive biology, who supervised the study. “It’s not easy to treat, and it can become resistant to hormone therapy. The most clinically impactful thing we found is that targeting super-enhancers might be a new treatment for this deeply invasive form of the disease.”

The MSU team collaborated with Van Andel Institute researchers, providing them with tissue samples for VAI scientists to analyse with a machine called a next-generation sequencer. The researchers already are planning follow-up studies to find other drugs that could target P300, Wilson and Reske said.

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