WES reports from the ASRM: it is time to think outside the box

26 October 2015

Endometriosis was very much in focus at the 71st Annual Meeting of the ASRM with interactive keynote lectures, oral abstract presentations, posters, and round table discussions.

WES Ambassador and Chair-elect of the ASRM Endometriosis Special Interest Group, Associate Professor Stacey Missmer, provides a summary from this year’s meeting:

  • Think outside the box when it comes to symptoms
  • Don’t lose sight of what is happening in the endometrium
  • One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to tackling endometriosis
  • Aggregate data will be the key to success

Systemic endometriosis

The observation from Hugh Taylor’s group that endometrium-derived stem cells can be detected in the brain has intriguing implications for hypotheses around a non-retrograde menstruation origin of endometriosis.

In addition, this may explain some of the distant symptoms experienced by women with endometriosis, such as migraine.

The endometrium and endometriosis

There were interesting presentations from Serdar Bulun’s group regarding expression differences in the endometrium.  They compared endometrium from women with endometriosis to endometrium from women who had undergone hysterectomy due to other benign gynaecological conditions.

They observed SF1 and GATA6 differences that had implications for steroid development, which they will continue to explore.

IVF and endometriosis

Data from Richard Scott’s group, among women undergoing IVF, suggest that women with endometriosis do not have more aneuploidy (the loss or gain of one or more chromosomes in the embryo).

Evidence for other mechanisms by which endometriosis may cause infertility and impact IVF response were summarised during the endometriosis and infertility interactive session and continue to be a key topic for bench and clinical research (see below).

Endometriosis: a diverse disease

One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to endometriosis. There were many different approaches to endometriosis at this multi-disciplinary meeting.

Associate Professor Stacey Missmer, Harvard University (USA)

This highlights the importance of understanding more clearly the diversity of endometriosis and its impact on women’s health specific to infertility and pain, as well a quality of life. This may explain the differences in surgical versus medical treatment response.

said Dr Missmer, and continued:

A key initiative of the ASRM is improving access to care for all women. This is important for endometriosis as well as infertility to ensure that we are learning from all women with this disease and offering accurate diagnosis and appropriate care.

As was discussed during the endometriosis interactive session, there are great opportunities for discovery through multi-centre research collaborations that will improve inclusion of all women.

Standardised tools have been developed to enable these world-wide collaborations and are freely available from the World Endometriosis Research Foundation’s EPHect Project.

Want to get involved?