KU researcher defines shape of enzyme linked to prostate, breast cancers

A Kansas University researcher has made a discovery that should lead to improved treatments for prostate and breast cancer.

Emily Scott, an associate professor of medicinal chemistry, has provided the first experimental evidence regarding the shape of an enzyme that makes hormones that promote the growth of prostate and breast cancer.

By defining the shape of this enzyme, Scott’s research will enable the design of more effective drugs to stop undesirable hormone production in cancer patients.

Emily Scott

Emily Scott

“To inhibit an enzyme, a drug needs to bind to it. But without knowing the shape of an enzyme, designing a drug to bind to it is like designing a key without knowing the shape of the lock. By revealing the shape of CYP17A1, our research will enable the design of better ‘keys,’ or in this case, better drugs.”

— KU researcher Emily Scott

Scott’s findings appear this week in the online edition of Nature, a highly-cited interdisciplinary science journal. The print edition will be available Feb. 2.

Scott’s work is funded by the National Institutes of Health through an award to the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence in Protein Structure and Function at KU, and by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Science.

Future work will be funded by a pilot project from the KU Cancer Center.

Tagged: breast cancer, prostate cancer, Kansas University

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