A Liberating Approach to "Targeted" Medicines

A Liberating Approach to "Targeted" Medicines

12.27.12 | By

We hope readers of Ye Olde Catalyst are enjoying a relaxing and reinvigorating week. In case you missed it in the holiday rush, there was a fascinating article in the New York Times over the weekend on new directions in cancer drug development.

Gina Kolata delves into ongoing efforts by three biopharmaceutical companies to create medicines that target a cancer gene (the p53 protein) linked to tumor growth. What's particularly unique is that these candidates do not target a specific type of cancer, but rather have the potential to tackle a wide range of cancers - both common and rare.

The article reinforces well-known elements of drug discovery, such as the lengthy R&D process (the companies' work on the p53 protein is 20 years and counting), the nimble nature of research as understanding of biology and genetics evolve, and the valuable contributions of professional societies and others in the biopharmaceutical ecosystem. It also raises some thoughtful new questions, such as the "unprecedented challenges of testing a drug in many types of cancers at once."

From the article: "This is a taste of the future in cancer drug development," said Dr. Otis Webb Brawley, the chief medical and scientific officer of the American Cancer Society. "I expect the organ from which the cancer came from will be less important in the future and the molecular target more important," he added.

It's a rather liberating way of thinking about "targeted" medicine.

For a short overview on the p53 tumor suppressive gene, check out this recent paper in Nature Education.

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