New treatments for cancer, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease could be developed due to the discovery of a potential new drug target.
Scientists at the Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling (CNRCS) at the University of Houston indentified a receptor for the hormone oestrogen that has a role in many metabolic functions.
Oestrogen receptor beta has been used as a treatment target to successfully inhibit tumour growth in breast cancer, doctors said.
Dr Jan-Ake Gustafsson, CNRCS director, said treatments for other diseases can benefit from these findings and they will ultimately save lives.
Researchers believe it is the extensive involvement of the receptor in many biochemical pathways that gives it such a potential for treatment.
Initial results have already indicated the selective activation of the receptor can modify Alzheimer's disease.
The Alzheimer's Society states the condition is currently treated with drugs such as Aricept, Exelon, Ebixa and Reminyl.