Romana Nowak, an associate professor of
reproductive biology in the Department of Animal Sciences, is
working on two strategies that may hold promise for more effectively
-- and less radically -- dealing with fibroid tumors.
"We're hoping that at least one of
these proves effective," said Nowak, who came to the U of I in 2000
from the Harvard Medical School.
Fibroid tumors are benign growths of
the smooth muscle tissue in the uterus. The tumors cause pain,
abnormal uterine bleeding and infertility and are the No. 1 cause
for U.S. hysterectomies.
"Fibroid tumors are hormone-dependent,
so women tend to get them during their reproductive years," said
Nowak. "During menopause, the tumors reduce in size. Drug therapy,
the alternative to surgery, involves chemically creating menopause
in the patient. However, there are a number of problems with this
"The drug that fools the body into
menopause also delivers the side effects of menopause -- bone mass
loss, hot flashes, possible damage to the cardiovascular system --
and therefore can only provide about three months of relief."
Nowak's research, funded by private
pharmaceutical companies, is looking at two therapies. One involves
the use of interferon and the other halofuginone, a drug used in
Lab tests show that both the
proliferation of fibroid tumor cells and collagen production by the
cells are inhibited by halofuginone. Excess collagen production
contributes to the tumor mass.
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