Reading cancer's résumé

October 18, 2018

Thinking about battling cancer without understanding its tissue of origin would be like hiring someone without knowing about their previous employment.  This vintage book review organizes some great, old thoughts on tissue specificity for anti-cancer drug development

Sometimes you have  to remember where you’ve been to know where you're going.  Drug development and discovery technology have been moving so fast, it can be refreshing to get a comprehensive snapshot of where it was over a decade ago. A review of the book Anticancer Drug Development organizes some great thoughts on the state of anti-cancer drug development in 2002 which are useful to compare with our perceptions now.

 

The review starts off with a nod to the book's excellent summary of the state of cancer drug discovery at that point, with an enthusiasm for all the newly discovered promising targets and pathways.  While several of the higher profile targets, such as angiogenesis, appear to have come to fruition as drugs, some of the usual suspects that continue to be stuck in limbo make the list, such as cell signalling and cell death.  Conspicuously absent is the revolution that actually happened in cancer drugs, namely immunotherapy.  

 

Similarly, the tunnel vision on small molecule drug discovery is evident in the review and this book from the pre-biologics days.  It’s refreshing to see what we were all thinking right before a tidal wave of evidence on biologics changed our perspective forever.  Some themes on small molecule drug discovery described in the book remind us of their enduring promise such as the high-throughput screening and chemistry advances.  These are enduring tools and reading the review and the book serve to clarify how important it is not to abandon them, but simply to use them the right way.

 

A hint of that right way is there in this old tome.  The review notes how the book discusses the rising importance of three-dimensional cultures to attempt to make in vitro screening a better model of the clinic. To current perspective, thinking about battling cancer without understanding its tissue of origin and interacting tissues such as immune cells would be like hiring someone without knowing about their previous employment. Our company, GeneCentrix, has chugged the Kool-Aid on this one and has the leading tool to enable this approach by mapping drug targets to tissues.

 

 

 

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