About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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December 21, 2005

Another Shot at Cancer

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Posted by Derek

Regular readers might enjoy seeing some of the posts from this blog recapitulated in this New York Times story about this week's approval of a new cancer therapy from Bayer:

. . .Although every field has suffered, cancer has had the greatest chasm between hope and reality. One in 20 prospective cancer cures used in human tests reaches the market, the worst record of any medical category. Among those that gained approval in the last 20 years, fewer than one in five have been shown to extend lives, life extensions usually measured in weeks or months, not years. . .Drug companies have been promising for years that gene-hunting techniques would yield targeted nontoxic therapies that melt cancer, but few cancer medicines fit that profile. . ."There are all these myths having to do with cancer drugs," Dr. Steven Hirschfeld, an F.D.A. medical officer with expertise in cancer, said. "That they're very targeted, when in fact all these drugs have multiple targets. That they're nontoxic, when in fact the latest ones have their own set of side effects. And that they're cures, when they are not."

This new compound is the first in a wave of multiple-kinase inhibitors. It's going to be very interesting to see how these molecules work compared to the earlier wave of more targeted therapies. Good luck to everyone involved - the researchers, the companies, and most of all, to the patients.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Cancer


1. JSinger on December 21, 2005 2:47 PM writes...

The debate about the Nexavar trial seems more like a textbook case of research ethics. (At what point do you declare efficacy and stop the placebo group as opposed to getting a better endpoint by killing patients?) I can see where you could argue it either way, but it seems like a strange example to illustrate the Times' larger point.

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2. Abel Pharmboy on December 21, 2005 8:25 PM writes...

Congratulations, Derek, on any role you may have played in the development of this compound. Dr. PharmGirl, a medical oncologist, came home tonight after seeing some very difficult patients and we know firsthand the crap you guys take on behalf of our patients.

Only problem with the NYT article is they don't discuss the very high bar that is set for new drugs as single agents when they are, in reality, used in combinations.

I believe that multiply-targeted or "dirty drugs" do have their place - why else is doxorubicin still a major player in breast cancer therapy? Of course, your new drug is multiply-targeted with far more finesse than these older cytotoxics.

"Good on ya!" to all of you and your colleagues who persist despite endless criticism from press and academics. Many thanks from a new reader who greatly appreciates your insights.

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