Characterising novel targets for the treatment of endometriosis

Research area

 |  endometrosis


 |  endometriosis, immune system, immunomodulation, endometrium, women's health, disease


 |  PhD/Doctorate, Honours, Masters

Project description

Endometriosis is a chronic disorder that has a major impact on quality of life. Despite its high prevalence, there is a lack of understanding of its pathogenesis, there is no cure, and current treatment options are limited to medicines with side effects or invasive surgery. We are aiming to develop new therapeutic strategies that focus on the immune system and not a woman’s menstrual cycle, like most current treatments. Interferons are a family of cytokines that have anti-pathogen and anti-tumour actions. They work by controlling cell growth, survival, migration and activation in immune cells that cause inflammation.

Interferon epsilon (IFNε) is a novel cytokine and immunomodulator that is constitutively expressed and only in the female reproductive tract (FRT) epithelium. IFNε exerts its protective effects in the FRT to prevent bacterial/viral infections and cancers. IFNε exerts a protective effect against the development of ovarian cancer in pre-clinical mouse models and can also reduce cancer metastases when given as a therapeutic in these mice. Given the similarities between ovarian cancer and endometriosis; increased cell growth and adaptation to an inflamed environment, we are interested to see whether IFNε may play a role in endometriosis pathogenesis and whether it can be used as a new therapeutic for the disease.