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MSU researchers discover possible genetic target for treating endometriosis

Posted at 4:01 PM, Nov 11, 2020

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University researchers have identified a potential genetic target for treating a painful form of endometriosis. Their study, which was published in the scientific journal Cell Reports, could lead to better treatments for women suffering from 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.

Their research focused on a type of endometriosis that occurs in women who have a mutation in a gene called ARID1A, which is linked to the more invasive and painful form of the disease.

“There haven’t been many successful nonhormonal therapies for this form of endometriosis that have made it to the bedside yet,” Reske said.

In laboratory experiments, he and Wilson tested a drug that appeared to target the affected cells and stop the spread of endometriosis. Such a drug — part of a new type of treatment called “epigenetic therapy” that controls how genes are expressed — could be far more effective than current treatments, including surgery, hormone therapy and pain management.

Endometriosis, particularly the kind associated with the ARID1A mutation, can be debilitating for many women, often leading to infertility.

“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, gynecology 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 original paper can be viewed here:

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