Prostate disorder proteins `discovered`

Washington: Scientists have discovered a combination of proteins involved in prostate disorders, a key finding which they claim could pave the way for effective and better treatments.

An international team, led by the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research and the University of Western Australia, has identified the `G protein-coupled receptors`, a family of "receptors" that enable cells to respond to hormones and neurotransmitters.

These are extremely important in treating disease and are the target of up to 50 per cent of all therapeutic drugs.

Prof Kevin Pfleger, who led the team, said G protein- coupled receptors were very important proteins on the outside of cells that enabled signals from hormones and neuro- transmitters to be transferred into the cell.

"Scientists now realise that these receptors do not work in isolation, but in particular combinations, which they call `heteromers`. It is suggested that a number of side effects from drugs may result from not fully understanding which combinations form and what happens when they do," he said.

Prof Pfleger said prostate disorders such as benign prostatic hyperplasia affected nearly every man at some point in his life. Better drugs with fewer side effects were needed to reduce or eliminate the need for surgical intervention in more serious cases, he said in a release.

"We hope that the identification of this novel combination of receptors, and the novel functioning that results from their interaction, will provide opportunities to develop better treatments for debilitating prostate disorders that affect so many ageing men," he added.