Lurie Cancer Center Member
Zhidong Nick Lu, PhD
Research Associate Professor, Medicine, Allergy Division; Feinberg School of Medicine
Signal Transduction in Cancer
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Glucocorticoids are the most frequently prescribed medicine today and they are indispensable in the treatment of asthma, inflammation, and cancer. However, two concerns regarding glucocorticoid use remain unresolved. One is that high-dose or long-term glucocorticoids result in troublesome side effects such as metabolic syndrome and osteoporosis; the other is that some patients do not respond to glucocorticoids. We tackle both questions by examining the glucocorticoid receptor. Translational isoforms of glucocorticoid receptors were recently discovered in our lab and they provide insights into the mechanisms of action of glucocorticoids. Ribosomal shunting and leaky scanning processes generate translational glucocorticoid receptor isoforms. These receptor isoforms have distinct cell-killing and cytokine-suppression capabilities in a bone cancer cell model system. Currently, we are identifying and characterizing the receptor isoforms in different populations of immune cells in diseases such as asthma and cancer. This line of research has implications in several other fields in addition to immunology and oncology.