Biological Molecules


What is the role of enzyme inhibitors?

3 years ago


2 Replies




Hertha Green

2 Answers

Sabbir Ahmed

Enzyme inhibitors have numerous roles. One exciting role which is used by biochemists is to treat a number of human diseases. For example, hormone-dependent breast cancer is a disease which impacts a large number of women (and even men although the numbers being affected are relatively smaller). What happens is that the body produces the natural family of hormone called the estrogens; these are the group of molecules within the body which (on the whole) lead to the girls becoming women at puberty. But the long term exposure to these estrogens is harmful to a number of tissue which actually, believe it or not, depend on the estrogens for their development (such as the breasts or the ovaries). What basically happens is that the breast cells are triggered by the estrogens and as the cells divide they start to make errors in copying their genetic material, that is, we get the formation of mutations in the genome of breast cells which eventually lead to the formation of a very different cell from the original breast cell. At this stage, we have the beginning of a breast tumour cell which, as the cell continues to divide and form new daughter cells, leads t the formation of the tumour. Getting back to the enzyme inhibitors, what these do is to block the cells from producing the estrogens (e.g. in the breast cancer cells) by blocking the action of enzymes which are involved in the synthesis of the estrogens (e.g. the enzyme aromatase is crucial in the production of estrogens). As such, by blocking enzymes such as aromatase (e.g. the drug anastrozole) prevents the advance of breast cancer and thereby saves lives of women and men suffering from hormone-dependent breast cancer. I can provide a diagram to show this.

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Enzyme inhibitors are molecules that have the ability to alter the functions of the chosen enzyme. When an inhibitor binds to an enzyme, the molecule weakens the enzyme- substrate complex by reducing the affinity of the substrate for the enzyme’s binding site. Simply put, they work by blocking or mutating the enzymes active site in order to slow down or stop reactions caused by the enzyme within the body.

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