Discovery in development of fibroids may lead to new treatment


Uterine leiomyomata, better known as fibroids, are benign tumors that affect millions of women. Fibroids cause pain, bleeding and infertility. They are a common cause for hysterectomy. In Finland, where a new study was conducted, 8,000 hysterectomies are performed each year.

New findings may lead to better pharmacological treatments

Researchers at the Academy of Finland’s Centre of Excellence in Cancer Genetics Research have found the molecular mechanisms underlying the onset of common leiomyomata. “These new findings are essential for the further development of pharmacological treatments for this type of tumor,” explained Academy Professor Lauri Aaltonen, who heads the Centre of Excellence based at the University of Helsinki.

Complex chromosomal rearrangements are the cause

Her team has shown how the genome of benign uterine leiomyomata differs from normal uterine tissue. Very little was known prior to this research. Previously, this team had discovered the gene defect that explains more than half of the tumors. The whole-genome sequencing proved that most of the rest of the tumors develop as a result of chromosome fragmentation. “Complex chromosomal rearrangements are a major cause of cellular changes that contribute to the onset of benign uterine leiomyomata,” said Aaltonen.

Development similar to malignant tumors

Similar changes are known to also cause malignant tumors. The results of Aaltonen’s team suggest that the same mechanisms may also underlie the onset of benign tumors in women suffering from fibroids. As a result better treatments can be developed both as a preventive and also as a curative. “Our research also indicates what mechanisms may prevent benign tumors from becoming malignant,” concluded Aaltonen.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, New England Journal of Medicine


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