“We are developing engineering solutions to diagnose and/or treat endometriosis with simple, minimally invasive methods,” she says. “We are beginning our research by working with endometrial cell lines to understand how they behave under various conditions simulated in the lab.”
With UC Mechanical Engineering student Katie Ellis and UC Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Debbie Munro, Dr Wood is developing a new research focus on endometriosis.
“Our goal is to introduce an engineering approach to diagnosing and treating endometriosis,” Dr Wood says. “The number one emotion of endometriosis sufferers upon receiving their diagnosis was ‘relief’. This is surprising because they’ve been told they have a chronic, incurable disease, but they felt validated for the first time in their lives.
“We need to find ways to let patients know sooner, without surgery, that they have this condition so that they can get effective treatment sooner.”
Endometriosis is an inflammatory chronic pain condition caused by uterine tissue growing outside of the uterus that afflicts at least 11% of females worldwide, which results in a substantial burden to these people, and society at large. In addition to the extensive pain symptoms endometriosis patients can experience, people with endometriosis also have a high prevalence of infertility and sub-fertility. As many as half of endometriosis patients suffer from fertility issues. There are delays of approximately nine years for patients to receive a diagnosis of endometriosis, and this is almost always at the point of surgery, where the affected tissue is removed.
- Tauhere UC Connect public lecture: Can we end endometriosis? presented by Lecturer Dr Rachael Wood, Chemical & Process Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Canterbury, from 7pm–8pm, Wednesday 13 September 2023, in C1, Central lecture theatres at the University of Canterbury, Ilam, Christchurch. Register to attend free at: https://www.canterbury.ac.nz/news-and-events/regular-events/uc-connect-public-lectures. Tauhere UC Connect talks are also livestreamed on the UC Facebook page, and made available to watch on YouTube.