Researching endo

University of Canterbury Engineering Lecturer Dr Rachael Wood, PhD student Katherine Ellis and Engineering Senior Lecturer Dr Deborah Munro, are carrying out ground-breaking endometriosis research.

A Canterbury scientist hopes her newly-funded research will lead to better ways of managing endometriosis, a disease that affects more than 100,000 Kiwi women.

Dr Rachael Wood, from the University of Canterbury will receive $360,000 over three years in a Te Pūtea Rangahau a Marsden Fast-Start grant.

Her project will investigate the invasive mechanics of endometriosis, an incurable disease that can cause debilitating pain, fatigue, and nausea, as well as reduced fertility.

Dr Wood and her team have already found that endometriosis has similar invasive properties to hormone-driven cancers. With her Marsden Fund Fast-Start grant, she hopes to determine how endometriosis tissue modifies its environment to aid invasion.

Dr Wood and her research team will measure the mechanical properties of healthy endometrial and diseased endometriosis tissues and use these measurements to build 3D, mechanical models that can be used for experimental work.

“By observing how healthy and diseased cells interact with different tissue models, we hope to better understand the onset and progression of endometriosis, and how this compares to cancer,” Dr Wood says.

The project will help to uncover how the mechanical properties of tissue, such as stiffness, are impacted by the invasion of endometriotic cells. “Ultimately, this knowledge may help to identify new diagnostic and treatment strategies for endometriosis, potentially bringing relief to millions worldwide.”

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