In Cushing's syndrome, the earlier treatment begins, the less harmful the disease is to the body. However, Cushing's syndrome is complex and difficult to diagnose. It has a wide range of symptoms that mimic those of other conditions, and the severity of the syndrome can fluctuate. Through its numerous research projects, the NICHD aims improve understanding of Cushing's syndrome and, ultimately, to bring faster diagnoses and more effective treatment.
Some NICHD research is aimed at devising new tests and tools to help health care providers screen and diagnose individuals with Cushing's syndrome. Much of this research into tools and tests is supported through the NICHD's Section on Reproductive Endocrinology (SRE), in the Division of Intramural Research (DIR). Work by the section includes:
Some people appear to be more likely to develop certain types of tumors. The NICHD's Section on Endocrinology and Genetics (SEGEN) is trying to identify genes that might be involved—and how that involvement unfolds—in several disorders of the adrenal and pituitary glands, as well as for multiple endocrine neoplasia syndromes that involve those glands.
Although identifying who has, or is more at risk for having, Cushing's syndrome is key to successful treatment, researchers are also concerned with monitoring lingering effects from Cushing's syndrome—even after cure. Researchers in many different parts of the NICHD are examining the long-term impact of Cushing's syndrome. Key research projects include the following:
To achieve its goals for Cushing's syndrome research, the NICHD supports a number of research and clinical training programs for physicians. These programs are part of NIH-wide or other collaborative efforts in which the NICHD participates. Examples are listed below.
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