Endometriosis - identifying all the pieces of the puzzle

Endometriosis affects one in nine women of reproductive age, causing serious pain and, in some cases, infertility. It’s estimated to cost the Australian health system $7.7 billion annually.

While endometriosis continues to ravage women’s reproductive organs, there is still much we don’t know about this disease and current treatment is only effective for some.

In endometriosis, tissue similar to the normal uterine lining grows and invades the areas around the pelvis. It creates rigid scar tissue that impedes the function of the organs by reducing their mobility, and causes serious pain.

IMB researchers finding and connecting the pieces

Like many complex diseases, the contributing environmental and genetic risk factors are like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Researchers at IMB are finding and connecting the pieces.

Uncovering each of the risk factors will open the door to effective prevention, diagnosis and targeted treatment.

Finding areas of the genome associated with endometriosis

“It’s a difficult problem, and we are still a long way off identifying all the pieces of the puzzle, but we are making progress and it’s going to come together. It’s slow progress but it’s real progress,” said Professor Montgomery.

“It’s unlikely that we will complete this puzzle for current sufferers, but I’m hopeful that with ongoing funding, we can help their daughters.”

Professor Grant Montgomery

“The causes of endometriosis are poorly understood, but we have made excellent progress in the last five years and now is the time to capitalise on this success.”

“If backed by appropriate funding, the combination of advances in genomics, large international genetic studies, better model systems, and the ability to analyse large datasets of patient information, all provide the catalyst needed to accelerate research progress into endometriosis.”

A driving force for sufferers

Professor Montgomery co-led the world’s largest study into the genetic causes of endometriosis, which confirmed 14 regions of the genome that are associated with the disease, including five new gene regions. He also published the first examples of likely target genes for two regions.

In addition to his contributions through research, Professor Montgomery was a driving force behind the Australian Coalition for Endometriosis that stretched from the lab bench right through to the Australian Federal Parliament to secure increased funding to find better treatments for this debilitating disease.


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