News » GW Researcher Studying Role of Receptor in Antitumor Activity

GW Researcher Studying Role of Receptor in Antitumor Activity

Rong Li, PhD, Ross Professor of Basic Science Research and chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences, is conducting research on the regulation of estrogen receptor beta (ERβ) signaling in carcinogenesis thanks in part to a $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The ERβ receptor has exhibited antitumor activity in multiple cancer types, however little is known about how the signaling activity can be used for cancer therapies.

“We don’t know very much about how this activity can be harnessed with high efficacy and precision,” said Li.

The multi-PI team hypothesizes that the ERβ -centered signaling axis provides a previously unrecognized molecular handle for mobilizing tumor-extrinsic antitumor activity of ERβ in immune cells.

To prove its hypothesis, the team will identify the immune cell types that mediate tumor extrinsic signaling in antitumor immunity and delineate the upstream regulators and downstream target genes of ERβ signaling in immune cells. Team members will then assess the therapeutic potential of targeting the ERβ signaling axis to boost current cancer immunotherapies.

“Immunotherapy has become an important part of cancer therapy,” Li said. “We hope that what we find in this study will help improve clinical outcomes and efficacy of immunotherapy for larger numbers of cancer patients.”

The study is a continuation of research Li started at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. The project, titled “Regulation of ER Beta Signaling in Carcinogenesis,” is funded by the NIH through January 2022.