Tuesday, December 29, 2009

aromatase and cancer

There is a huge family of enzymes known as the Cytochrome P450 family, which I always used to find very confusing. Man species have hundreds of them, doing apparently unrelated things, so I never managed to remember anything about these proteins because whenever I came across a bit of information, it didn't seem to fit with the previous one.

Recently I've managed to figure out what it's about (the clue is in the spare oxygen atom left over after the reaction they all share -- with that they can do all kinds of chemistry) and written a couple of pieces about this field, pegged to the crystal structure of aromatase, an enzyme that plays a key role in a large number of breast tumours, and is thus a prime target for cancer therapy. Aromatase is also interesting for the chemist as it is so far the only known enzyme that can turn an aliphatic ring (such as cyclohexene) into an aromatic one (such as benzene), hence the name.

My latest musings on CytP450s, aromatase, and cancer appear in the January issue of Education in Chemistry (but not on their website, I'm afraid):

Aromatase: a target for cancer treatment.
Education in Chemistry 47, No 1, 22-24.

This is also my first publication of 2010, hooray!

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