New approaches to endometriosis treatment: mouse experiments point the way
Immune cells promote excessive blood vessel growth
July 3, 2007
Possible new directions for the treatment of endometriosis, a painful condition associated with infertility that affects up to 15 percent of women of reproductive age, were outlined today with the presentation of two experimental studies at the 23rd annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Lyon, France. Both involve targeting angiogenesis -- the formation of new blood vessels -- which encourages endometriosis by providing a rich blood supply.
A research team led by Ofer Fainaru, MD, PhD, a research associate at Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, found that dendritic cells -- highly specialized immune cells -- support angiogenesis by enhancing blood vessel growth. Using a mouse model of endometriosis, the researchers found that dendritic cells incorporate into the endometriosis lesions and enhance their growth. They also found that these cells have a similar effect on intra-abdominal tumors.
"We therefore believe that targeting dendritic cells may prove to be a promising strategy for treating conditions dependent on angiogenesis, such as endometriosis and cancer," says Fainaru. "Our next step will be to look for specific dendritic cell inhibitors that could have the potential to decrease angiogenesis in these conditions."
The team hopes that in the future it may be able to develop cell-specific therapy for angiogenesis-dependent diseases that will be more effective and less toxic than current treatments.
Children's Hospital Boston is home to the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries have benefited both children and adults since 1869. More than 500 scientists, including eight members of the National Academy of Sciences, 11 members of the Institute of Medicine and 10 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Children's research community. Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children, Children's Hospital Boston today is a 347-bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent health care grounded in the values of excellence in patient care and sensitivity to the complex needs and diversity of children and families. Children's also is the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. For more information about the hospital and its research visit: www.childrenshospital.org/newsroom.