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Sparing Patients the Ravages of Steroid Medicines and Overproduction of Cortisol

David Katz is the Chief Scientific Officer at Sparrow Pharmaceuticals. He is exploring the possibility of blocking the formation of intracellular steroids to reduce the side effects of steroid medicines and conditions related to the overproduction of cortisol in the body in such diseases as Cushing's Syndrome and autonomous cortisol secretion.

David says, "Cortisol is made in an organ called the adrenal, and then it circulates throughout the body. And endocrinologists tend to think about the cortisol that's circulating as really being the effector of both the good effects, so immune suppression that you want in a patient who has a transplanted organ or an autoimmune disease, as well as all the bad effects."

"What we recognize actually is that most of the receptors of cortisol are within the cell and that it's the steroid that's in the cell that matters. And most of that actually is made by a different pathway, by an enzyme called HSD1, which is the target of our drug."

"And the magic of that is the immune suppressive actions of the steroids almost uniquely seem to be dependent on systemic steroids more than the intracellular steroids. And so, by blocking the formation of this pool of intracellular steroids by inhibiting HSD1, we can block many of the bad effects without necessarily meaningfully altering the desired effect in patients who are taking steroid medicines."

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