MadSci Network: Biochemistry

Re: Mesestrol acetate how does it fight cancer in the human body?

Date: Wed Jul 26 14:04:40 2000
Posted By: Sarah Tegen, Grad student, Molecular and Cell Biology, UC-Berkeley
Area of science: Biochemistry
ID: 953748470.Bc

Hi there,
Megestrol acetate is one of the compounds frequently referred to as an 
'anti-estrogen.'  Exactly how these compounds work as anti-cancer agents 
isn't clear, but this is what I understand.

Estrogen is a hormone which has a receptor inside the cell.  Think of this 
like a key, with the receptor as a lock.  When the key is in the lock, and 
the lock opened, you can open the door.  In the case of cells, the analogous 
door opening is turning on genes.  Often when certain genes get turned on, 
the cell divides.  And uncontrolled cellular proliferation is a hallmark of 
cancer.  So the way an anti-estrogen works is that it's like a key that fits 
in the lock, but the lock won't turn, basically jamming the lock, and not 
allowing the door to be opened.  

The exact genes which get turned on by the estrogen receptor to cause cancer 
are not clear at this time.  

Megestrol acetate is used to combat advanced breast and endometrial cancers.  
There are also reports of using it to prevent spontaneous abortion in the 
first trimester of pregnancy.  Additionally it can help combat the wasting 
syndrome associated with AIDS.

Here are some web links I've found useful in learning about megestrol 

Hope this is helpful.


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