A researcher at Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute has moved a step closer to a cure, and possibly the prevention, of the most common type of breast cancer.
Debashis Ghosh, a senior research scientist, reached a milestone by determining the third and last structure of Aromatase, an enzyme used by the human body to create estrogen.
This work will enable further research to develop drugs to specifically target estrogen-dependent tumours in breast cancer.
"This is a dream come true," Dr. Debashis Ghosh, an HWI senior research scientist and a principal investigator who also holds a joint faculty appointment at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), said.
"Scientists worldwide have been trying for 35 years to crystallize this membrane-bound enzyme and we are the first to succeed. Now that we know the structures of all three key enzymes implicated in estrogen-dependant breast cancers, our goal is to have a personalized cocktail of inhibitors customized to the specific treatment needs of each patient.
"Our knowledge about these three enzymes will enable us to develop three mutually exclusive inhibitors customized to each patient's needs which will work in harmony together with minimal side effects," Ghosh added, the completion of the third enzyme structure follows Ghosh's work on the first structure in 1996 and the second in 2003.
Walter Pangborn, executive vice president at HWI, said: "This means that results from this research will form the basis for novel breast cancer drugs that are highly specific for aromatase, but cause minimal side effects."
The new research will be featured in the scientific journal Nature.