Endometriosis team wins MRFF grant

MRFF grant made to Monash team for endometriosis relief using low FODMAP diet.

Congratulations to Associate Professor Jane Muir on the award of an Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant, announced 28 May by Minister for Health, Greg Hunt. This particular round of grants is intended to address the health problem of endometriosis.

The title of A/Prof Muir's grant is "Creating an evidence base for clinical care: A randomised controlled study examining the efficacy of the low FODMAP diet for the relief of gastrointestinal symptoms in endometriosis", and has received funding for 2021-2025.

A/Prof Muir said, "We have a great team of Chief Investigators, who have all done a huge amount of work to get this project over the line!" The team members are A/Prof Jane Muir (CIA), Dr Rebecca BurgellDr Jane Varney and Dr Judith Moore of Central Clinical School's Department of  Gastroenterology; Prof Jane Fisher in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine; and Prof Mark Morrison at University of Queensland.

Endometriosis is a common condition affecting up to 10% of women of reproductive age. It may be asymptomatic, where it can result in subfertility, or can present with chronic intractable symptoms impacting on the quality of life. Symptoms include pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea or dyspareunia however gastrointestinal (GI) complaints are also common, affecting up to 90% of patients. Surprisingly, given the high prevalence of GI symptoms, there is poor understanding as to the underlying cause. It has been postulated that GI symptoms are due to extra-genital endometriosis. However, despite the majority of patients reporting GI symptoms, only 7% of sufferers have GI endometrial deposits suggesting other mechanism at play.

Management involves hormonal suppression or surgical resection of endometrial deposits. Unfortunately, while pain symptoms respond to such therapies, GI symptoms are more refractory. There is thus a large unmet need for specific therapies to target GI symptoms in women with endometriosis.

There is large overlap between GI symptoms seen in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and endometriosis. Effective therapies are available for patients with IBS, with the low FODMAP diet, pioneered by Monash University's Department of Gastroenterology, now first line. However, there is limited information as to whether it is helpful in patients suffering from similar GI symptoms secondary to endometriosis. It is also critical to determine whether specific clinical or physiological parameters predict response to dietary intervention so that target treatment can be implemented.

The current project seeks to explore: 1) if low FODMAP diet therapy is effective in treating GI symptoms associated with endometriosis, 2) the potential role gut and vaginal microbiota plays in GI symptoms associated with endometriosis, 3) clinical, physiological and psychological parameters in patients with endometriosis associated with the presence of GI symptoms.