Dr. Junxuan "Johnny" Lu's research interests and expertise include angiogenesis, apoptosis, autophagy, cell cycle regulation, senescence, prostate and mammary carcinogenesis models, androgen and estrogen receptor signaling; Proteomics-iTRAQ; transcriptomics; metabolomics; PK/PD; biomarkers; immunity and cancer; and clinical translation research.
The major areas of ongoing studies in the Lu lab include:
- Herbal compounds as novel cancer chemopreventive and therapeutic agents. The Lu lab faculty and associates discovered pyranocoumarins from Korean angelica as a novel class of anti-androgens. They are studying Korean angelica extract and compounds for anti-cancer efficacy and mechanisms using xenograft and transgenic models. They are planning clinical trials in prostate cancer patients with oncologists and urologists at Penn State Cancer Institute.
- Next-gen selenium compounds for cancer chemoprevention. The Lu lab has used cell culture models (cancer, vascular endothelial cells) to identify the lead Se compounds with cancer chemopreventive potential and their cellular and molecular mechanisms. They assess in vivo efficacy in animal models including xenografts, transgenic and conditional knockout mice models. The Lu lab collaborates with chemist colleagues in the department to study novel selenium hybrid drugs.
- Precision therapy of cancer. The Lu lab has contributed to the findings that hexokinase 2 (HK2) plays a crucial role in subsets of aggressive prostate cancer and the proof of principle that co-targeting HK2-mediated Warburg effect with 2-deoxyglucose and its ULK1-mediated anti-apoptotic autophagy with chloroquine remarkably regresses these cancers in mouse models. The lab is collaborating with oncologists to repurpose these drugs to cancer patients.