Funded Research

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Drs. Jeffrey B. Arterburn of New Mexico State University and Eric R. Prossnitz of the University of New Mexico are collaborating to study a new protein (or receptor) that sends signals to cells in response to the hormone estrogen. This new receptor is different from others in that it works more quickly. Dr. Arterburn is working on creating new chemical compounds that selectively activate or inhibit only this new receptor, working to find drugs that can block or “turn on” the protein, depending on what the patient needs. Dr. Prossnitz and his UNM collaborators are testing these compounds for activity in many diseases and conditions, including cancer, autoimmunity and heart disease. In cancer, estrogen accelerates tumor growth in many cases, and the use of drugs to inhibit this new receptor and thereby block estrogen’s activity could mean an important advance in treatment. In addition, Dr. Arterburn is creating new radioactive compounds that can be used to find new ways to image tumors without the need for surgery, leading to improved diagnosis and the evaluation of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These same radioactive compounds could also be developed as cancer therapies themselves. Drs. Arterburn and Prossnitz and their teams are currently testing all these compounds in mouse models of human cancers and other diseases.

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