Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have found different signaling pathways being used by fibroid cells compared to the uterine cells.

“That’s important for identifying therapeutic targets because we want to target the tumour without affecting the surrounding tissue,” said Stacey Schutte, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering in the institution’s College of Engineering and Applied Science.

The study published in the journal F&S Science, says that treating fibroids is often invasive and expensive, costing patients and their insurers billions of dollars each year, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The researchers grew fibroid cells and uterine cells on plates with an elastic bottom. Then they used a device to expose the cells to mechanical strain to mimic the environment that fibroids encounter in the uterus.

“We have a flexible tension device. We grew cells on plates with an elastic bottom. Then we used a vacuum to pull and stretch it,” said said Stacey Schutte, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering in UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science.”

“It stretches cells in a single direction. We found that fibroid cells were more sensitive to strain,” said study lead author Rachel Warwar, in UC’s College of Medicine.

Warwar said they identified differences in the ways the cells held their shape. She works in UC’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

She said the findings highlight the importance of incorporating not just hormones but mechanical strain into the study of fibroid cells.

“The more we are able to mimic the environment of these cells in the uterus, the more we will understand the pathology of these cells and can then work to target anomalous pathways in fibroid cells,” she said.

Nearly 4 in 5 women have fibroids during their lifetimes. Because they are so common, they represent a major health care cost. Common noninvasive treatments target hormones responsible for fibroid growth.

“We are looking for nonhormonal treatments for fibroids,” said study coauthor Andreja Moset Zupan, a research associate in Schutte’s biomedical engineering lab.”

“It’s another option we could use to preserve the fertility of women who still want to get pregnant,” she said.

Once researchers understand the cell pathology, they can study fibroids using 3D simulations and modeling, which could help them further understand how fibroids develop and the best ways to treat them.


@ Vanguard Newspaper

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