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Steroid sulfatase (STS) is an important new therapeutic target in oncology. Attempts to design nonsteroidal STS inhibitors, because of the oestrogenicity of the original lead oestrone 3-O-sulfamate in rodents, have led to the discovery of benzophenone-4,4'-O,O-bis-sulfamate (BENZOMATE, 3). The nonfused bicyclic BENZOMATE is a highly potent STS inhibitor in vitro, inhibiting STS activity in intact MCF-7 breast cancer cells by > 70% at 0.1 microM and in placental microsomes by > 98% at 10 microM. When MCF-7 cells were pre-treated with 3 at 1 microM and then washed to remove unbound inhibitor, the initial 94% inhibition was reduced to 89% suggesting that 3, like other sulfamate-based STS inhibitors, inhibits the enzyme irreversibly. This agent also inhibits rat liver STS activity by 84% and 93% respectively 24 h after a single dose of 1 or 10 mg/kg, demonstrating that BENZOMATE possesses similar in vivo potency to the established potent nonsteroidal inhibitor 667COUMATE. Several modifications were made to BENZOMATE structurally and effects on in vitro activity were examined. These structure-activity relationship studies show that its carbonyl and bis-sulfamate groups are pivotal for activity, although conformational flexibility is not required. Two rigid anthraquinone-based sulfamate derivatives however showed inhibitory activity significantly better than BENZOMATE in the MCF-7 cell assay. BENZOMATE and related analogues therefore represent an important class of non-steroidal STS inhibitor and lead compounds for future drug design.

Original publication




Journal article


Bioorg Med Chem

Publication Date





2759 - 2772


Animals, Benzophenones, Cell Line, Tumor, Enzyme Inhibitors, Female, Humans, Liver, Rats, Rats, Wistar, Steryl-Sulfatase