Three researchers from Aarhus University are heading a major international research and innovation project that aims to improve the treatment and quality of life of patients with endometriosis. The EU is supporting the project with DKK 45 million from the Horizon 2020 pool.
Researchers estimate that approximately ten per cent of all women of childbearing age suffer from endometriosis – a disease that causes severe pain in the lower body, impaired fertility and, in many cases, requires treatment or surgery. On average, it takes seven years to make the correct diagnosis, and only around twenty per cent of all those who have the disease are correctly diagnosed.
Associate Professors Mette Nyegaard, Department of Biomedicine, and Dorte Rytter, Department of Public Health, together with Psychologist and Postdoc Karina Ejgaard Hansen, are the three scientific beacons in the major international research and innovation collaboration FEMaLe, which has endometriosis as its focal point. Professor Axel Forman from The Department of Clinical Medicine is also a central part of the project, which builds on his crucial preparatory work within the field.
The FEMaLe project builds bridges across disciplines and sectors by translating genetic and epidemiological knowledge into clinical tools that support decision-making aimed at both general practice and highly specialised endometriosis clinics – all via machine learning and artificial intelligence.
No more taboos and shame
The researchers will examine how the prevention of endometriosis can be improved together with earlier diagnosis and support for self-care. This will be done by identifying the biological subtypes of the disease through the introduction of digital tools for detection, and by supporting the dialogue on treatment options between the patient, medical doctor and therapist – a dialogue that is currently characterised by taboo and shame.
Their hope is that the project can introduce a viable path for the use of precision medicine and shared data with citizens and generally act as a driver for new discoveries in endometriosis research, and that these can both reduce the cost in terms of quality of life for the patient and improve the results of treatment for the benefit of society.
The EU’s Horizon 2020 pool has granted DKK 45 million to the project, which includes 16 partners from all over Europe, including companies, patient associations and leading research institutions. Researchers from Aarhus University receive DKK 16 million for the project, which is coordinated by Ulrik Bak Kirk from the Department of Public Health. He is also the main architect behind the application, which received a top score from the EU evaluators.
Scientific Coordinator, Associate Professor and PhD Mette Nyegaard
Aarhus University, Department of Biomedicine
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