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Rare Womens Lung Disease May Yield Insights Into Common Diseases

, Henske said. Many women with LAM die prematurely.

As part of her work, Henske discovered that mutations in the tuberous sclerosis gene, which triggers TSC, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form in many different organs, including the brain, eyes, heart, kidney, skin and lungs, plays a role in the cause of LAM. Her current work involves looking into the role female hormones play in the growth and metastasis of LAM cells.

Her tireless efforts have shed light on the connection between two diseases, provided understanding of the underlying mechanisms and hopefully will one day lead to a cure. By studying LAM we hope to develop treatments to eradicate LAM cells, and also learn more about how hormones cause abnormal cells to grow and metastasize, Henske said.

Henskes work may also benefit research on common diseases because the cellular pathways that are activated in tuberous sclerosis and LAM are also activated in many forms of cancer, and in diabetes and obesity. What is learned about LAM may help us understand more common diseases in which hormones play an important role, such as breast cancer. The impact of LAM research could spread to other diseases that are not hormonally dependent, she points out.

Despite the current advances being made by researchers like Henske, there is still an enormous amount that we do not yet understand about sex and gender differences in health and disease, ground that will hopefully be covered by researchers in the future.


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