Debashis Ghosh and his colleagues at the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute have figured out what a key enzyme, known as aromatase, that produces estrogens, looks like.
A report on the group's work can be found in the latest issues of the journal "Nature."
Knowing aromatase's molecular structure will allow researchers to create drugs targeting it and inhibiting it, ultimately preventing breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the U.S. and the second leading cause of cancer death in women. Around 75% of breast cancer patients have tumors containing estrogen receptors, a type of cancer that relies on the hormone to grow.
Ghosh says that now that scientists know the makeup of all three enzymes implicated in estrogen-dependent cancer, they hope to devise "a personalized cocktail of inhibitors customized to the specific treatment needs of each patient."