CNRCS Research Featured on Cover of Molecular Endocrinology Journal

Research by University of Houston Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling (UH CNRCS) professor Cecilia Williams was featured on the June 2011 cover of the scientific journal Molecular Endocrinology. The Endocrine Society publication selected Williams’ study exploring how estrogen hormones can be used to prevent colon cancer as its lead article for the June issue.

Mol. Endo. June

“Through our research we found that the presence of estrogen receptors not only slowed the growth of colorectal cancer cells, but they also helped to protect against further development of the cancer,” said Williams. “Our work demonstrates the potential of novel hormone compounds that activate the estrogen receptor as new colon cancer treatments.”

The study, conducted by Williams and her team of CNRCS researchers, focused on the impact of estrogen receptor beta, the estrogen receptor first discovered by CNRCS director Jan-Åke Gustafsson, on colorectal cancer cell lines. For each cell line, researchers manipulated genes and estrogen receptors to induce changes that allowed them to study the tumor-generating characteristics of the cancer cell lines. The team found an association between expression of estrogen receptor beta and antitumorigenic characteristics of the cells in culture.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States, excluding skin cancer. The cancer affects both men and women and is expected to cause almost 50,000 deaths in 2011. Fortunately, thanks to new treatments and increased awareness, the death rate is continuing to decline in the United States.

Molecular Endocrinology provides a forum for papers devoted to describing molecular mechanisms by which hormones and related compounds regulate function. The journal has a reputation as a high visibility research publication with rapid communication of cutting edge science.

CNRCS director Jan-Åke Gustafsson, research professor Anders Ström, and graduate students Karin Edvardsson and Philip Jonsson collaborated on the study. The research was funded through the Texas Emerging Technology Fund and grants from the Lars Hierta Memorial Foundation, the Magnus Bergvall Foundation, the Swedish Cancer Society and the Robert A. Welch Foundation.

To view the abstract online, visit