Selective transformation of protein into sex hormone could limit side effects
L. Prokai et al/Science Translational Medicine 2015
Researchers have developed a chemical that transforms into a powerful hormone once inside a rat — but only in the brain, not the body.
A protein in rats’ brains turns a chemical nicknamed DHED into the hormone estrogen, scientists report July 22 in Science Translational Medicine. This targeted treatment could provide estrogen to the brain and avoid potentially dangerous side effects in the body, the researchers say.
“This is an interesting breakthrough,” says neuroendocrinologist Bruce McEwen of the Rockefeller University in New York City. The idea of treatments that affect the brain but not the body, or the body but not the brain, could be useful in treating a number of conditions, including cancer, he says. But the implications of this study for hormone replacement therapy in women is up for debate, a number of researchers say.