New research alliance aims to win global fight against chronic pain and infertility caused

Fertility Society of Australia

2019 Annual Scientific Meeting, Hobart

Media Release, 17 September 2019

New research alliance aims to win global fight against chronic pain and infertility caused by endometriosis

A major fertility conference in Hobart today advanced international collaboration to help identify risk factors for endometriosis, a condition that robs up to 10 per cent of girls of their healthy teenage years, causing chronic pain and in many cases leading to reproductive problems.

This research was in focus at the annual scientific meeting of the Fertility Society of Australia being attended by leading specialists exploring the causes and treatment of endometriosis and other fertility problems.

At the conference, British obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr Louisa Manning, outlined initial outcomes from an award-winning study using data from the UK Biobank looking at factors that seem to predispose some women to develop endometriosis.

Dr Manning’s study investigated data from the UK Biobank, including 3,820 endometriosis cases and 240,731 women without endometriosis, discovering some new gene variants that predispose some women to develop endometriosis, while other women do not.

Her work aligns with a major research project being undertaken in Australia to understand genetic risk profiles in women with endometriosis.

This research, being led by Professors Luk Rombauts, Caroline Gargett and Grant Montgomery, has been funded by a $US 2.7 million grant from the United States Department of Defence to help determine the cause of endometriosis and the physiological processes associated with the disease.

Professor Rombauts, Monash IVF Medical Director and incoming President of the World Endometriosis Society, said the US defence funding reflected the fact that up to two per cent of the US military population have endometriosis.

The findings of the joint research are expected to benefit women globally who are desperate for a better way to manage the debilitating pain and infertility caused by endometriosis.

“The research being carried out in Australia and internationally recognises the significant cost of endometriosis on individuals and the health care system,” Professor Rombauts said.

“This work could lead to a major breakthrough in the global battle to advance knowledge of the cause and management of endometriosis, and improve the quality of life for one in 10 Australian women.”

The US funding for the Australian researchers will go towards leading edge science that aims to understand how ‘risk gene’ profiles may cause abnormal endometrial stem cell behaviours in women with endometriosis.

“The novelty and innovation of the approach lies in the merger of parallel streams of endometriosis research.

“Hopefully, this funding will bring us a big step closer to understanding why endometriosis affects some women and not others.”

The Fertility Society of Australia (FSA) is the peak body representing scientists, doctors, researchers, nurses, consumers and counsellors in reproductive medicine in Australia and New Zealand.

The FSA’s 2019 conference is being held at the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Hobart.

/Public Release.