The ability of an experimental drug known as GW5638 to change the shape of the estrogen receptor is helping researchers understand why drugs like tamoxifen and raloxifene behave the way they do, simulating the effects of estrogen in some tissues and blocking it in others. The finding indicates that this little-known drug may play an important role in preventing, as well as treating, breast cancer and suggests ways to design new drugs with even more specific effects.
In the May 13, 2005, issue of Molecular Cell, researchers from the University of Chicago, Renz Research, Inc., Duke University and GlaxoSmithKline show how GW5638 fits into a pocket in the estrogen receptor in a way that differs slightly, but importantly, from how tamoxifen fits. The slight difference changes the shape of the receptor in ways that alter its effects on the numerous coregulatory proteins that interact with it.
"We found a small, but significant, change in conformation that goes a long way towards explaining why these drugs have different effects in different tissues," said Geoffrey Greene, Ph.D., professor in the Ben May Institute for Cancer Research at the University of Chicago.
John Easton | EurekAlert!
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