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Thursday, December 1, 2022

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CNRCS lectures on hormones


Jan-Åke Gustafsson of the Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling teaches about alpha and beta hormones. | Brenda Franco/The Daily Cougar

Jan-Åke Gustafsson of the Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling teaches about alpha and beta hormones. | Brenda Franco/The Daily Cougar

Nearly 200 students and faculty members attended the first in the Friends of Natural Science and Mathematics distinguished-lecture series Tuesday. Jan-Åke Gustafsson, director of the Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling, presented the lecture entitled “Hormones in Health and Disease.”

In 1995, Gustafsson and his team discovered that there were two estrogen receptors, one for alpha and one for the beta — ERα and ERβ, respectively.

Estrogen is known as a hormone associated with the intricate workings of the human body in both men and women.

It has recently been discovered to have several other effects, such as playing a large role in breast and prostate cancer.

“You can simplify it by saying that estrogen has a good side and a bad side,” Gustafsson said. “ERβ, usually, mediates the good effects and ERα the bad effects.”

Since the discovery of ERβ, Gustafsson and his team have worked to learn as much as they can about the variations of the hormone.

Gustafsson has revealed a list of useful advantages of ERβ that they have found in the labs.

ERβ has been found to help reduce the symptoms of menopause, depression, help regulate blood pressure, promote prostate health, prevent age-influenced hearing loss, reduce hypertension and its anti-inflammatory properties could potentially help with rheumatoid arthritis and degenerative diseases that affect the central nervous system, like multiple sclerosis or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Gustafsson’s most extensive work has been with ERβ’s preventative relationship to cancer.

“In breast cancer, the ERα is present,” Gustafsson said. “ERβ seems to disappear as the cancer progresses. It’s bad news that the protector against cancer disappears during cancer development.”

Gustafsson is now working to learn how to successfully induce ERβ in the cancer tissue.

He and his team have extensively studied the effects of introducing ERβ into the body and found that the results are ultimately non-toxic.

Gustafsson is interested in using the University’s location to his advantage and working with some of the foremost cancer doctors here in Houston.

Despite his findings, Gustafsson tells the audience, “Please expect opposition when you make a discovery. A discovery can actually negatively affect your funding.”

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