Novel Therapeutics for Endocrine Disorders
Endocrine disorders underlie a host of pathologies, including growth disorders, obesity, and diabetes. A dramatic example is acromegaly, a disease in which a pituitary adenoma produces high levels of growth hormone that result in clinical manifestations, including insulin resistance, diabetes, abnormal growth, and heart problems. If the pituitary adenoma occurs before puberty, individuals could become acromegalic giants. John Kopchick, Goll Ohio Eminent Scholar and professor of molecular biology, and his group at the Edison Biotechnology Institute use animal models and proteomics to investigate the onset and progression of endocrine diseases, especially those involved with growth disorders and diabetes. They utilize the insights gained from these studies to identify and develop novel therapeutics. Their seminal work related to studies on growth hormone led to the identification of a compound that inhibits growth hormone action: a growth hormone antagonist. This new class of drug, now termed Somavert, is currently marketed by Pfizer for the treatment of acromegaly patients. Recently, Kopchick’s group has focused its expertise on understanding the mechanisms of growth hormone’s involvement in diabetes and cancer. A portion of Kopchick’s work is done in collaboration with Lonnie Welch, Stuckey Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, who assists with the efficient use of bioinformatics tools for the screening of new therapeutic targets.