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Junxuan Lu, PhD

Junxuan Lu, PhD

Professor, Department of Pharmacology
Penn State Neuroscience Institute
Center for Cannabis and Natural Product Pharmaceuticals (CCNPP)
Scientific Program:Next-Generation Therapies

Research Interests

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.
  • Neoplasms
  • Prostatic Neoplasms
  • Apoptosis
  • Selenium
  • Growth
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Prostate
  • methylselenic acid
  • decursin
  • Androgen Receptors
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Angelica

Recent Publications


Carkaci-Salli, N, Raup-Konsavage, WM, Karelia, D, Sun, D, Jiang, C, Lu, J & Vrana, KE 2023, 'Cannabinoids as Potential Cancer Therapeutics: The Concentration Conundrum', Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.
Karelia, D, Corey, Z, Wang, H, Raup-Konsavage, WM, Vrana, KE, Lü, J & Jiang, C 2023, 'Library Screening and Preliminary Characterization of Synthetic Cannabinoids Against Prostate and Pancreatic Cancer Cell Lines', Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.
Freeman, B, Mamallapalli, J, Bian, T, Ballas, K, Lynch, A, Scala, A, Huo, Z, Fredenburg, KM, Bruijnzeel, AW, Baglole, CJ, Lu, J, Salloum, RG, Malaty, J & Xing, C 2023, 'Opportunities and Challenges of Kava in Lung Cancer Prevention', International journal of molecular sciences, vol. 24, no. 11, 9539.


Lü, J, Jiang, C, Schell, TD, Joshi, M, Raman, JD & Xing, C 2022, 'Angelica gigas: Signature Compounds, In Vivo Anticancer, Analgesic, Neuroprotective and Other Activities, and the Clinical Translation Challenges', American Journal of Chinese Medicine, vol. 50, no. 6, pp. 1475-1527.
Kim, S, Li, L, Zhang, J, Jiang, C & Lü, J 2022, 'Aqueous metabolome of tissue-specific conditional Pten-knockout mouse prostate cancer and TRAMP neuroendocrine carcinoma', Prostate, vol. 82, no. 1, pp. 154-166.
Crawford, LTC, Kim, S, Karelia, D, Sepulveda, DE, Morgan, DJ, Lü, J & Henderson-Redmond, AN 2022, 'Decursinol-mediated antinociception and anti-allodynia in acute and neuropathic pain models in male mice: Tolerance and receptor profiling', Frontiers in Pharmacology, vol. 13, 968976.
Bosland, MC, Schlicht, MJ, Deng, Y & Lü, J 2022, 'Effect of Dietary Methylseleninic Acid and Se-Methylselenocysteine on Carcinogen-Induced, Androgen-Promoted Prostate Carcinogenesis in Rats', Nutrition and cancer, vol. 74, no. 10, pp. 3761-3768.
Hati, S, Hu, Q, Huo, Z, Lu, J & Xing, C 2022, 'In vivo Structure-Activity Relationship of Dihydromethysticin in Reducing Nicotine-Derived Nitrosamine Ketone (NNK)-Induced Lung DNA Damage against Lung Carcinogenesis in A/J Mice', ChemMedChem, vol. 17, no. 7, e202100727.
Karelia, DN, Kim, S, Plano, D, Sharma, AK, Jiang, C & Lu, J 2023, 'Seleno-aspirin compound AS-10 promotes histone acetylation ahead of suppressing androgen receptor transcription, G1 arrest, and apoptosis of prostate cancer cells', Prostate, vol. 83, no. 1, pp. 16-29.
Bian, T, Ding, H, Wang, Y, Hu, Q, Chen, S, Fujioka, N, Zahra Aly, F, Lu, J, Huo, Z & Xing, C 2022, 'Suppressing the activation of protein kinase A as a DNA damage-independent mechanistic lead for dihydromethysticin prophylaxis of NNK-induced lung carcinogenesis', Carcinogenesis, vol. 43, no. 7, pp. 659-670.


Tang, SN, Jiang, P, Kim, S, Zhang, J, Jiang, C & Lu, J 2021, 'Interception targets of angelica gigas nakai root extract versus pyranocoumarins in prostate early lesions and neuroendocrine carcinomas in TRAMP Mice', Cancer Prevention Research, vol. 14, no. 6, pp. 635-648.
Karelia, DN, Kim, S, Pandey, MK, Plano, D, Amin, S, Lu, J & Sharma, AK 2021, 'Novel seleno-aspirinyl compound as-10 induces apoptosis, g1 arrest of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cells, inhibits their nf-κb signaling, and synergizes with gemcitabine cytotoxicity', International journal of molecular sciences, vol. 22, no. 9, 4966.


Bian, T, Corral, P, Wang, Y, Botello, J, Kingston, R, Daniels, T, Salloum, RG, Johnston, E, Huo, Z, Lu, J, Liu, AC & Xing, C 2020, 'Kava as a clinical nutrient: Promises and challenges', Nutrients, vol. 12, no. 10, 3044, pp. 1-35.
Hu, Q, Corral, P, Narayanapillai, SC, Leitzman, P, Upadhyaya, P, O'sullivan, MG, Hecht, SS, Lu, J & Xing, C 2020, 'Oral Dosing of Dihydromethysticin Ahead of Tobacco Carcinogen NNK Effectively Prevents Lung Tumorigenesis in A/J Mice', Chemical research in toxicology, vol. 33, no. 7, pp. 1980-1988.
Wang, Y, Narayanapillai, SC, Tessier, KM, Strayer, LG, Upadhyaya, P, Hu, Q, Kingston, R, Salloum, RG, Lu, J, Hecht, SS, Hatsukami, DK, Fujioka, N & Xing, C 2020, 'The Impact of One-week Dietary Supplementation with Kava on Biomarkers of Tobacco Use and Nitrosamine-based Carcinogenesis Risk among Active Smokers', Cancer Prevention Research, vol. 13, no. 5, pp. 483-492.