Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology; Feinberg School of Medicine
Signal Transduction in Cancer,Women's Cancer
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The laboratory research of Serdar E. Bulun, MD, focuses on studying progesterone and estrogen action, estrogen biosynthesis and metabolism, in particular aromatase expression, in hormone-dependent human diseases such as breast cancer, endometriosis and uterine fibroids. A team of investigators works on understanding the molecular mechanisms of resistance to treatment of breast cancer with aromatase inhibitors. Since aromatase inhibitors treat breast tumors primarily via suppressing intratumoral estrogen biosynthesis, these efforts are important for discovering new targets of treatment. Another team studies endometriosis and showed that epigenetic abnormalities lead to steroid receptor dysfunction, eventually giving rise to local excessive estrogen production in endometriosis tissue. As a follow-up to extensive laboratory research efforts, we introduced aromatase inhibitors as a novel and effective class of therapeutics into endometriosis. This new treatment can potentially help hundreds of thousands of women with endometriosis refractory to currently available treatments. A third team is investigating the link between progesterone action and estrogen inactivation in normal endometrium and endometriosis. Lastly, a fourth team works on the role of progesterone and its receptor in the growth of uterine fibroids, the most common tumor of women. We demonstrated that progesterone activates a number of of proto-oncogens, whereas anti-progestins promotes the expression of multiple tumor suppressors to exert a therapeutic effect. This group also explores novel interactions between genomewide progesterone binding sites, DNA methylation, and stem cell function in the pathophysiology of uterine fibroids.