IMAGE: Dr. Andrew Schally (right) is seen in this 2013 Miami VA photo with his former lab manager, Ricardo Rincon. view more
Credit: Larry Gilstad
A lab team led by Nobel Prize winner Dr. Andrew Schally at the Miami Veterans Affairs Healthcare System and the University of Miami showed that a synthetic compound based on a brain hormone spurred the growth of cancer cells in Petri dishes but enigmatically had the opposite effect in mice.
The surprising discovery, reported online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on Oct. 29, 2018, holds promise for cancer treatment. But it is also important because the manmade compound and others like it have shown beneficial effects in preclinical studies to treat a range of medical conditions affecting the heart, pancreas, eyes, and other organs. That’s because the compounds spur the growth of new healthy tissue. Tests in animal models suggest, for example, that they could help grow new heart muscle cells after a heart attack.
The compound tested in the new PNAS report, MR409, is one of several patented analogs, or derivatives, made in Schally’s lab based on growth hormone-releasing hormone, or GHRH. GHRH is made in the brain’s hypothalamus. It triggers the production