Aussie endometriosis study reveals clues to better treatment
Australian researchers say their study of a disease which causes chronic pain and affects one in nine women has revealed new clues about what puts women at higher risk of developing it.
Endometriosis causes chronic pain, infertility and fatigue from lesions growing outside the uterus.
University of Queensland researchers played a part in the largest ever genetic study into the condition.
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They worked with Oxford University in the UK and dozens more teams around the world to discover 42 genetic factors associated with a higher risk of the disease.
Laura Terry explained how it feels to have endometriosis.
"I don't want to walk move eat sometimes it can make you nauseous," she said.
"It can actually knock you down you can have all these sharp spasms that radiate throughout your body."
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Dr Sally Mortlock from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience said they looked at differences in the DNA code in tens of thousands of women.
"We combined data from 60,000 women with endo and 700,000 women without endometriosis," Mortlock said.
"Very little is known about the causes of endometriosis, but studying genetics can give us clues to the biological processes that are the basis for onset and progression.
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"Before this study there were 17 genetic regions associated with endometriosis and now we have 42 regions with much richer data.
"It means we can find out what genes in these regions do and find new drug targets, leading to new treatments."
Until now endometriosis has taken up to ten years to diagnose, but these findings promise to help speed up that process, and improve the quality of life for sufferers plus open new avenues for treatment.
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Profesor Grant Montgomery from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience has been studying the genetics of endometriosis for more than 20 years and said the study was an important step towards improved treatment and diagnosis.
"One of the difficulties with the delay of course is that the disease progresses at least for some women and so by the time they get to treatment you know the disease might be more severe," he said.
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TV star Bindi Irwin recently revealed her long battle with the condition.
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