Support innovative research to create new treatments for pituitary patients.

Support Pituitary Studies and Treatment

The pituitary is a small gland that sits at the base of the brain, secreting hormones that regulate functions throughout the body. When it malfunctions, the damage can be widespread: brain function, cognition, reproduction, moods, vision, skin, muscle, bones, weight. Pituitary disorders can go unnoticed for years. A lack or excess of a hormone can be masked by other symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose and treat.

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0 More than 10,000 Americans are diagnosed with pituitary tumors each year
0 As many as 1 in 4 people may have a pituitary gland tumor, most without knowing it
0 Pituitary tumors comprise up to 12% of all primary brain tumors
Pituitary program

A Multidisciplinary Approach to Pituitary Disorder Treatment

The Barrow Pituitary Center, the only one in Arizona, treats more people with pituitary disorders than any other in the Southwest. The Center’s team includes a neurologist, ophthalmologist, radiation oncologist, rheumatologist, dietician and rehabilitation therapists. Key to the team’s success is a dedicated pituitary surgeon who operates weekly, developing a level of expertise not found in doctors who see a pituitary case infrequently.

doctor brain mri

Comprehensive Care That Changes Lives

At the center is the neuroendocrinologist – a pituitary specialist – who coordinates the team to care for the patient. Pituitary patients face complex health problems, often battling two or three complications at the same time. “It’s like seeing three patients in one,” says Dr. Kevin Yuen, co-director of the Barrow Pituitary Center.

The Center is also home to a specialized endocrine testing unit. Simple blood tests are not sufficient in treating pituitary disorders. Multiple blood draws under specific conditions must be taken at regular intervals over three or four hours. The unit helps make the experience less burdensome for patients.

Donations to Research Support New Pituitary Treatments

Since pituitary disorders are difficult to diagnose, specialists at the Barrow Pituitary Center, led by Dr. Kevin Yuen and Dr. Andrew Little, are conducting research to better understand how pituitary disease develops and find biomarkers that can track its progression. These would help improve diagnosis and lead to new drugs that work better with fewer side effects. Barrow specialists are also bringing clinical trials to patients who can immediately benefit from innovative therapies. Patients are able to try leading-edge medicines before anyone else and have no out-of-pocket expense, a relief from the high cost of most pituitary drugs.

Research is vital to improving diagnostics, more quickly identifying pituitary disorders and developing more effective drugs. As this work proceeds, it is also important to increase general endocrinologists’ knowledge and understanding of all that can go wrong in the pituitary.

Additional resources would allow the center to accelerate its research activities. Funding would support Dr. Yuen’s research, pay for additional staff to conduct studies and patient care, support patient travel and develop additional symposia. It would also allow for creation and staffing of a database to collect and compare information on all patients who come through the center. This data, so important in a condition that is under-reported, would enhance knowledge of pituitary disorders.

Caroline Hoeye Pituitary Research Program

RAPID Research Consortium

The Registry for Adenomas of the Pituitary and Related Disorders (RAPID) Research Consortium is a collaborative, multicenter research consortium focused on quality improvement efforts and clinical research for pituitary tumors. It comprises 14 centers across the U.S. and aims to transform care for pituitary patients.

Tumors in a Dish

Yana Zavros, PhD, is collaborating with Drs. Little and Yuen on a research project that aims to facilitate effective targeted medical therapies for Cushing’s disease. They have successfully developed a cultured organoid model that replicates much of the cellular complexity of a Cushing’s disease tumor, which can lead to more effective treatment for patients.

Clinical Trials

These trials test next-generation therapies for pituitary patients. For example, Dr. Yuen is leading a large, multicenter study examining a new oral drug for patients with Cushing’s disease. The new medication works in a unique way, blocking the effects of cortisol at the receptor level.

Research Impact

Research is critical to improving the diagnosis of pituitary disorders, understanding how pituitary tumors develop, and identifying biomarkers to track disease progression. It also allows scientists to develop drugs with fewer side effects and allows surgeons to refine procedures so patients can recover quicker.