Hao Zhu Laboratory
In the News
March 25, 2016 — Scientists at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern report that inactivating a certain protein-coding gene promotes liver tissue regeneration in mammals. Read the news release.
Oct. 12, 2015 — Scientists at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) have found that a microRNA responsible for preventing liver cancer formation can also compromise liver regeneration and, if present at even higher levels, can cause liver damage that results in cancer.
“Let-7 microRNAs have been shown in mice to be anti-growth, anti-cancer genes that are extraordinarily effective at preventing the formation of certain types of liver cancer,” says Dr. Hao Zhu, an Assistant Professor at CRI and CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research. “However, our study raises the possibility that let-7 is not a general anti-cancer agent. It’s important to be selective and pay attention to when it might be effective and when it might not be effective, or even harmful.”
The CRI team also noted there are about a dozen, very similar let-7 microRNAs scattered across the genome, suggesting that the microRNAs work in tandem to achieve proper levels of let-7 to balance the need for regeneration against the need to antagonize cancer formation. This idea was supported by the fact that getting rid of a small subset of let-7 microRNAs could even accelerate liver regeneration.
Read the study published in eLife.
Dec. 10, 2014 — According to National Cancer Institute statistics, by the end of this year more than 16,000 children under the age of 19 will have been diagnosed with cancer. Although cancer in children is rare and not well understood, it is the leading cause of disease-related death among children and teenagers. But the outlook is improving thanks to cutting edge research at the genetic level. That research could be medicine’s next big thing.
Dr. Hao Zhu, an Assistant Professor at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern and a CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research, has pinpointed a gene that contributes to childhood cancers like neuroblastoma, Wilms tumor and liver cancer.
- Read the Medical Breakthroughs in-depth interview.
- Watch the WLS-TV report.
- Read the WJXT-TV report.
Nov. 24, 2014 — Dr. Hao Zhu, an Assistant Professor at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern, has been awarded a $1.35 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) for research related to the development of effective therapies for chronic liver disease and liver cancer.
Liver cancer, which is almost always preceded by cirrhosis, is a significant cause of cancer-related death worldwide. In the United States, Texas has the second highest incidence rate of liver cancer.
“We recently identified a genetic pathway known as the SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling pathway that when suppressed, results in better liver regeneration and the potential for preventing liver cancer,” said Dr. Zhu, who is also a CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research. “With the help of this generous funding support, we will use mouse models to validate the pathway as a target in chronic liver disease and liver cancer, and then work to develop novel compounds for the simultaneous treatment of cirrhosis and cancer in the liver.”
Aug. 29, 2014 — Hao Zhu, M.D., an Assistant Professor at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern, has been named one of the Dallas 40 by D Magazine. Read the article.
Aug. 11, 2014 — Researchers at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern have identified a gene that contributes to the development of several childhood cancers, in a study conducted with mice designed to model the cancers.
If the findings prove to be applicable to humans, the research could lead to new strategies for targeting certain childhood cancers at a molecular level.
July 29, 2014 — The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has awarded nearly $5 million in research fellowships to 46 predoctoral students from 24 countries, including two Ph.D. student researchers at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern — Liem Nguyen and Xiaolei Shi.
Read the news release.
July 28, 2014 — Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) — the most common form of liver cancer — is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the world, yet there are few effective therapies and virtually no predictive markers based on a molecular understanding of the disease.
To increase current knowledge of HCC genetics, scientists at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern have generated efficient and physiologic liver cancer mouse models with in vivo use of a powerful genome-engineering tool known as Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nucleases, or TALENs.
Read the study published in Cancer Research.
Nov. 7, 2013 — Two groups of scientists at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern have made complementary discoveries that break new ground on efforts to turn back the body’s clock on cellular activity, paving the way for a better understanding of stem cells, tissue growth and regeneration.
April 2, 2013 — Ralph DeBerardinis, M.D., Ph.D., and Hao Zhu, M.D., are the first two faculty members recruited to join Sean Morrison, Ph.D., at Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI). Dr. DeBerardinis, whose lab focuses on cancer and metabolism, and Dr. Zhu, whose lab focuses on liver cancer, recently discussed their reasons for joining CRI and what each hopes to achieve through their research in the coming years. Read the Q&A.