Scientists have designed a novel, small molecule that could open up new avenues in the treatment of prostate cancer.

In a study published online on May 28 in the journal Nature Communications, Jung-Mo Ahn, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Texas in Dallas, and his colleagues at the university’s Southwestern Medical Centre described the rational design of the molecule.

Their laboratory tests showed the molecule’s effectiveness at blocking the cancer-promoting function of proteins called androgen receptors.

Androgen receptors are found inside cells, and have complex surfaces with multiple “docking points” where various proteins can bind to the receptor. Each docking point has a unique shape, so only a correctly shaped molecule will fit.

Androgen hormones, such as testosterone, are the primary molecules that bind to androgen receptors.

Such binding sets off a chain of events that activates several different processes in the human body, including stimulating the development and maintenance of male characteristics, reports Science Daily.

“When a tumour is trying to grow, activation of this location provides what the tumour needs,” Ahn said.

“There are other surfaces on the androgen receptor that are free to continue working with their respective proteins and to continue functioning. We sought to block only one set of interactions that contribute to prostate cancer growth. That’s why we thought our approach might lead to potent efficacy with fewer side effects,” the researcher said.

Keywords: prostate cancer