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6 Aug 2013

Scientists make breakthrough on potential treatment for Cushing's disease

Scientists have discovered that TR4 plays an integral role in Cushing's disease

US scientists have a made a significant discovery that could lead to the development of improved treatments for Cushing's disease (CD).

Researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological studies found that the TR4 protein drives the formation of pituitary tumours in CD.

According to the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, TR4 regulates the gene that produces adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which is overproduced by pituitary tumours.

Patients with CD have too much ACTH, which stimulates the production and release of cortisol, demonstrating why suffers have high levels of cortisol in their blood.

Previous research has shown that TR4 is a natural target for other signalling molecules in the pituitary.

The team suggested that small-molecule inhibitors that have been developed to target other cancers could potentially be applied to disrupt the signalling cascade.

Senior author and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Ronald Evans commented: "Our discovery might lead clinicians to an existing drug that could be used to treat Cushing's disease."

He also said: "TR4 is driving the growth and overexpression of ACTH. Targeting this pathway could therapeutically benefit treatment of CD."

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