University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
601 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7113, (312) 996-3456, www.uic.edu/depts/paff
August 23, 1999 Contact: Carol Mattar (312)996-1583, firstname.lastname@example.org
UIC STUDY MAY SHOW NEW WAY TO STOP ENDOMETRIOSIS
A study to be conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center will be the first in the nation to examine a new strategy for stopping the growth of endometriosis, which could lead to treatment for infertility, pelvic pain and tumors.
Dr. Serdar Bulun and Dr. Bert Scoccia of the UIC College of Medicine's department of obstetrics and gynecology will enroll women with moderate to severe endometriosis in the study of the use of aromatase inhibitors to treat the little-understood disease.
Originating in the reproductive system, endometriosis occurs when the tissue lining the uterus grows in other areas such as the abdomen, the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the intestines or the bladder. It can cause infertility when the endometrial tissue blocks the fallopian tubes or damages the ovaries, often causing severe pelvic pain. It has been known to cause damage to vital organs such as the kidneys.
Bulun, who is director of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility, says endometriosis is one of the major health problems in the U.S., affecting between three and six million women. It renders 30 to 40 percent of those women infertile.
While the effects of endometriosis are well-documented, its cause has remained largely a mystery and current treatments have been ineffective.
Bulun has demonstrated in his laboratory that implanted endometrial tissue can keep growing because it produces its own estrogen. His research has detected high levels of aromatase, an enzyme involved in the production of estrogen in endometrial tissue.
"This transplanted tissue is devious," he says. "The estrogen is like fuel. If you cut the supply, the tissue will stop growing."
Traditional treatment strategies focus on reducing estrogen production by the ovaries, Bulun explains. But there is a high incidence of recurrence which, he believes, could be reduced by aromatase inhibitors.
The UIC study will test aromatase inhibitors, which have been used successfully in treating breast cancer because it also is estrogen-dependent and produces its own estrogen. Bulun expects near- complete eradication of lesions and significant reduction of pain. The rate of relapse after this treatment is not yet known.
Women interested in participating in the study may call (312) 943-7510 during business hours or (800) UIC-1002 evenings and weekends for more information.
With 25,000 students, the University of Illinois at Chicago is the largest and most diverse university in the Chicago area. UIC is home to the largest medical school in the United States and is one of the 88 leading research universities in the country. Located just west of Chicago's Loop, UIC is a vital part of the educational, technological and cultural fabric of the area.
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