The uterus is one of the most dynamic organs in the human body,with vast changes the lining(endometrium) such as growth, remodeling and shedding during every menstrual cycle. When conditions arise that compromise the tight control of these processes, diseases can develop such as endometrial cancer, endometriosis and uterine fibroids.that occur in
The Kim Laboratory is interested in in deciphering the molecular mechanisms associated with the development and growth of endometrial cancer, endometriosis and fibroids in order to eventually identify novel areas to target for new treatment options. We are investigating the role of sex hormones, genetics, race and risk factors such as obesity and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Each disease is unique in their genetics, risk factors and responses to hormones.
To study mechanisms of disease initiation and progression, appropriate model systems are needed to accurately reflect the in vivo situation. The lab is also invested in building physiological models of the endometrium and myometrium as well as the 3 diseases mentioned. Depending on the research question, diverse cell sources are used ranging from cell lines, to primary cells from patient tissues, to differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells (Figure). We also consider the importance of tissue architecture and have generated organoids of the endometrium comprised of two major cell types, as well as organoids of the myometrium and uterine fibroids. In order to then study the impact of the, risk factors hormones, genetics and race in a more physiological manner, we created a microfluidic platform that allows for paracrine actions between different organs, longevity of tissue culture and the ability to be handled robotically. These systems and strategies provide unique insights into disease development and also facilitate the testing and screening of compounds on diseased cells of human origin. Given that uterine diseases do not occur spontaneously in animal models and since conventional cell cultures studies are limiting, our approach may provide a better screening tool for drug discovery.