Protein discovery may mean fewer hysterectomies

A new model could help uncover the cause of a common gynecological disease associated with 66 percent of hysterectomies.

For a new study published in the Journal of Pathology, scientists first identified a protein known as beta-catenin that may play a key role in the development of adenomyosis. When activated, beta-catenin causes changes in certain cells in a woman’s uterus, leading to the disease.

The researchers then created a mouse model that may reveal useful targets for new treatments.

“Progress in the understanding what causes adenomyosis and finding potential drug treatments has been hampered by the lack of defined molecular mechanisms and animal models,” says Jae-Wook Jeong, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Michigan State University.

“These findings provide great insights into our understanding of the beta-catenin protein and will lead to the translation of animal models for the development of new therapeutic approaches.”

The disease occurs when the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium) breaks through the muscle wall of the uterus (myometrium). Symptoms of the disease include menstrual bleeding, chronic pelvic pain, and infertility. Most women with the disease require surgery.

“This research offers hope to the millions of women who have adenomyosis and holds promise that a cure, besides hysterectomy, is on the horizon,” says Richard Leach, chairperson of the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology.

The National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society, and World Class University Program at Seoul National University in South Korea supported the research.

Source: Michigan State University