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School of Medicine Columbia

Enos receives NCCIH/NIH grant to study alternative to estrogen therapy

Reilly Enos, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia, has been awarded a K01 grant in the amount of $716,000 from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health/National Institutes of Health. The five-year grant runs through the year 2025.

As women age and reach menopause, a common treatment to alleviate their symptoms is the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Currently, HRT is 100 percent effective in affecting metabolic impairments linked to obesity, such as diabetes. However, HRT also is known to pose detrimental side effect, including an increased risk of stroke and cancer, especially estrogen-positive breast cancer.

Enos’ grant will allow him to research a medicine that could be safer and just as effective, 8-Prenylnarngenin (8PN), a naturally occurring compound found in hops, one of the plants used to make beer. 

”8PN shows great potential as an alternate therapy for the negative health side effects linked to estrogen deficiency,” Enos says. “But it occurs in such low doses that we must synthesize it in the lab.”

The first step will be to identify the mechanism of 8PN which allows it to bind to estrogen receptors and how it reacts and to learn how it reacts differently with cancer or in a metabolic model. While it will take years of investigation before the study could move to the clinical trials phase, Enos is excited for the potential uses.

“We are studying 8PN in the face of metabolic impairments,” he says, “and it could be applied to may other diseases that I have not even explored yet.”

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