Few good treatment options exist for the millions of women dealing with the intense pain caused by endometriosis, but researchers say a new "cellular atlas" could help.
A team at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles has developed a detailed molecular profile of endometriosis using data from 400,000 patient cells.
“Endometriosis has been an understudied disease in part because of limited cellular data that has hindered the development of effective treatments. In this study, we applied a new technology called single-cell genomics, which allowed us to profile the many different cell types contributing to the disease,” study co-author Kate Lawrenson said in a medical center news release.
“This resource can now be used by researchers all throughout the world to study specific cell types that they specialize in, which will hopefully lead to more efficient and effective diagnosis and treatment for endometriosis patients,” said Lawrenson, an associate professor in obstetrics and gynecology.
“It really is a game changer," she added.
After analyzing the individual cells, the researchers were able to identify the molecular differences between the major subtypes of endometriosis, including peritoneal disease and ovarian endometrioma, Lawrenson said.
In endometriosis, the cells of the uterine lining, or those that are similar, grow in the wrong places, including in the ovaries, fallopian tubes and abdominal cavity.
About 10% of women live with endometriosis, typically during their reproductive years. They may experience chronic pain, infertility, headaches, fatigue, and bowel and bladder dysfunction with few good treatment options.
The Cedars-Sinai researchers gathered the cell data from 21 patients. Some of the patients had endometriosis and others were disease-free.
The findings could lead to improved care for women with this disease, the study authors said.
“Identifying these cellular differences at such a detailed level should allow us to better understand the origins, natural progression, and potential therapeutic targets for treatment. We are currently limited to hormonal therapy and surgical excision, with variable success and frequent recurrence of disease,” said co-author Dr. Matthew Siedhoff, vice chair of gynecology.
The researchers are using the cellular atlas in laboratory tests involving mice.
The findings were published online Jan. 9 in the journal Nature Genetics.
The World Health Organization has more on endometriosis.
SOURCE: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, news release, Jan. 9, 2023