Science Café Cleveland presents


"Pins and needles are so 20th century; How advancements in drug target discovery and drug delivery are shifting the strategy in the battle against cancer"


OCTOBER 11, 2010




Dr. Ruth A. Keri (Dept. of Pharmacology, CWRU)
Dr. Agata A. Exner (Dept. of Radiology, CWRU)




Drugs are ubiquitous in our daily lives, yet most of us are unaware of the vast canyon that must be traversed to bring the next Prozac from the lab to your medicine cabinet. The journey is long and complex and a huge business, but sadly one that yields extremely low returns on the significant investment. It is especially jarring in the case of cancer therapeutics. A recent New York Times article [Pollack A, 9/2/2009, FORTY YEARS' WAR] reports that out of the 860 cancer drugs currently in clinical trials, only 1 or 2 drugs will make it to the market in the next year or two.   

Why haven’t greater strides been made in finding a cure for cancer despite staggering scientific advancements? One answer is this difficulty to develop new drugs. Target discovery has been greatly facilitated by the advent of technologies that mine the complexities of the human genome and identify differences that exist between tumors and their normal tissue counterparts. Many of these new drugs are called “targeted therapies”, because they are designed to alter pathways that are uniquely changed in diseased cells. Once a candidate target has been identified and an active agent has been identified, the research shifts to drug delivery. Drug discovery and delivery research at Case Western Reserve University has been flourishing for a number of years. 

While the targeting and activity of any agent are of great importance, its packaging (and delivery route) is critical to achieving therapeutic success. Breast cancer is just one disease where there has been remarkable successes using therapies that exploit unique features of this disease to reduce mortality by as much as 50% in some subclasses of patients. While new drugs may alter diseased cells, they must also be efficiently delivered to their sites of action to be effective. Most delivery systems under development act simply as a protective mechanism that shelters the drug throughout its tortuous journey in the body. Our hope is to improve the outcomes of chemotherapy and reduce the extreme side effects that most patients treated with chemotherapy face.  

Join us as we take a closer look at approaches for discovering new drug targets as well as drug delivery techniques for cancer therapy and explore how researchers at CWRU are working to make those pesky pills, painful shots and associated collateral damage a thing of the past.  

You can familiarize yourself by the topic by checking out these articles beforehand.




Date: October 11, 2010
Time: Drinks start at 6:30 PM, discussion starts around 7:00 PM
Location: Tasting Room, Great Lakes Brewing Company (2701 Carroll Ave, Cleveland)


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