Professor Molly Stevens – Targeted Treatment of Adhesions Within the Womb by Reducing Scarring and Regeneration of New Tissue
A Wellbeing of Women funded team at Imperial College London is developing a new treatment to prevent scar tissue forming, following common obstetric and gynaecological procedures, and encourage the growth of healthy tissue. In turn this could help prevent miscarriage and infertility in women.
Asherman Syndrome is a condition where adhesions, or bridges of scar tissue, form in the cavity of the uterus following common obstetric and gynaecological related surgeries.
The RCOG reported that adhesions form in up to 18.5% of women who have had surgery around miscarriage with 42% of those being moderate to severe adhesions. Adhesions can cause infertility, recurrent miscarriage and abnormal placental attachment.
Treatments for women with infertility due to adhesions are limited while current preventative treatments for adhesions have variable efficacy.
The aim of this research project is to develop a new therapy for preventing scar tissue forming in the uterus. This will involve developing a fibrosis-targeting biomaterial (a substance implanted as a medical device or used to replace an organ) to prevent and treat uterus adhesions.
The biomaterial will be made from a ECM hydrogel. ECM has been well-established for use in reconstructive surgery and wound healing for decades. Recently, it has been shown that ECM hydrogels can be used to prevent fibrosis and help healthy tissue grow.
This is the first time that ECM hydrogels will be used to prevent and treat uterus scarring. The goal is to design a hydrogel for easy and localised delivery to the uterus, during surgery to prevent fibrosis.
Findings from this research will lead to better understanding of uterus adhesions and fill an important gap in this scientific field.
This research has the potential to treat fibrosis-related complications of endometriosis and pelvic surgery that can help women who have fertility problems due to scarring.
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