Current interest in new SERM molecules has built on the experience of the prototypes with the goal of enhancing bioavailability and selectivity and decreasing side effects (i.e., breast cancer, uterine cancer, and blood clots). All compounds under study have predominantly antiestrogenic effects in the rodent uterus with virtually no estrogen agonist properties. In order to improve upon the raloxifene pharmacophore, some groups have reported on the effect of modifying the benzothiophene nucleus. Particularly noteworthy were two discoveries made by the chemists at Eli Lilly which improved upon raloxifene.77 One change involved the introduction of a methyl ether on either the 5-OH or the 4'OH position, which resulted in compounds with increased potency in a cholesterol reduction assay in ovariectomized rats.178'179 The other change involved the replacement of the carbonyl 'hinge' with other atoms or groups, including N, CH2, S, and O. The change to the oxygen atom resulted in a compound with very little or no uterine effects in preclinical rodent models as well as increased potency in preventing bone loss in the ovariectomized rat model.180 These combined changes resulted in the development of arzoxifene.
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