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VA research in action
Foundation of modern endocrinology
August 2, 2018
Dr. Andrew Schally of the Miami VA Medical Center is part of an international team that has developed a new type of artificial pancreas. The study involved a man with diabetes, but the cell-therapy approach developed by the researchers may help in other diseases, as well. (Photo by Larry Gilstad)
Dr. Andrew Schally of the Miami VA Medical Center is a pioneer in the understanding of endocrine signaling in the nervous system. His studies established the foundation for many research areas, including neuroendocrinology and reproductive endocrinology, and illuminated the previously unknown relationship between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and endocrine system.
In 1977, he won the Nobel Prize for discovering that the hypothalamus links the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland.
For the past 20 years, Schally and his laboratory have synthesized analogs of growth hormone-release hormone (GHRH) for therapeutic use in managing various cancers. He pioneered the use of LHRH agonists to treat prostate cancer. In 2016, he found that GHRH could reduce the progression of stomach cancers in mice.
Although much of Schally's work has focused on cancer, he has made landmark contributions in other fields. In 2011, he established that GHRH is able to repair cells in the hearts of rats with acute myocardial infacts, leading to the possibility that someday humans who have had heart attacks will receive doses of this hormone to repair damage to their hearts. Schally's group continues to investigate this area, and published a follow-up article in 2017. His work with hypothalamic hormones has also led to many forms of gene therapy, such as new forms of birth control. He holds 32 U.S. patents and is an author on more than 2,400 scientific papers.
Principal investigator: Andrew Schally, M.D.; Miami VA Healthcare System
Schally AV. [Hypothalamic control of pituitary function with special reference to reproduction. Clinical and experimental studies]. Rev Iber Endocrinol. 1972;19(114):517-37. Spanish.
Kanashiro-Takeuchi RM, Takeuchi LM, Rick FG, Dulce R, Treuer AV, Florea V, Rodrigues CO, Hatzistergos KE, Selem SM, Gonzalez, DR, Block NL, Schally AV, Hare JM. Activation of growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH) receptor stimulates cardiac reverse remodeling after myocardial infaction (MI). Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jan 10;109(2):559-63.
Gan J, Ke X, Jiang J, Dong H, Yao Z, Lin Y, Lin W, Wu X, Yan S, Zhuang Y, Chu WK, Cai R, Zhang X, Cheung HS, Block NL, Pang CP, Schally AV, Zhang H. Growth hormone-releasing hormone receptor antagonists inhibit human gastric cancer through downregulation of PAK1-STAT3/NF-kB signaling. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Dec 20;113(50):14745-14750.
Miami VA part of international breakthrough in cell therapy. VA Research Currents. 2013 Nov 15.