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Promise and Progress - 3 Drug Discovery

The Time is Now - Supplement
Issue No. I

3 Drug Discovery

By: Valerie Matthews-Mehl
Date: March 1, 2011

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From the inception of the field of oncology, our investigators have led the way in new drug discovery.  Whether it is the development of the preparative drug regimen for bone marrow transplantation or the premedications that made the celebrated cancer drug taxol safe for use in humans, our scientists have been on the forefront, uncovering new compounds and improving the use of existing drugs for the treatment of cancer.  Now, using information gleaned from genetic and epigenetic discoveries, they are zeroing in on new therapeutic targets for drug intervention.  Progress in molecular imaging and quantitative sciences allow us to tell, almost immediately, if drugs are hitting their targets, and if they are killing cancer cells.  As a result, cancer medicine is no longer one size fits all but rather specifically tailored to the unique cellular characteristics of each patient’s cancer. 

Living Prostate Tissue Key to Improved, Personalized Therapies
Kimmel Cancer Center researchers and an international team of collaborators led by Marriki Laiho, Ph.D., Willard and Lillian Hackerman Professor of Radiation Oncology, developed a technique to keep normal and cancerous tissue surgically removed from the prostate alive and functioning for up to a week. Their discovery is helping investigators better understand the biology of prostate cancer and speed the development of personalized therapies for prostate cancer, by allowing them to test anticancer drugs on live tissue. They believe it also will reveal new clues about why certain therapies work and others fail.

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