A Vision for Blood Cancer Patients
In this episode of Discovery Files, we hear from veteran chemist Andy Souers, Ph.D., distinguished research fellow, AbbVie oncology discovery research, on how his team made a blood cancer discovery.
As Souers details in the episode, the story begins in the mid-90s, motivated by a need to find a different option for patients with blood cancer.
Turn back the clock to the “eureka” moment on a molecule’s journey to becoming a medication. In this episode, the lead chemist behind a discovery for blood cancer gives an inside look at the quest to help people with leukemia.
The research team zeroed in on understanding the processes within a cancer cell that might lead them to something that could kill the cells. They soon focused on apoptosis, a normal process where aged or damaged cells undergo a programmed death. Apoptosis allows cancer cells to multiply and build up, crowding out normal, healthy cells.
“We asked ourselves, ‘Could we actually come up with a molecule that could get into that cancer cell and turn that cell death process back on?’” Souers says.
That’s what took the team down the road of targeting BCL-2 family of proteins, also called B-cell lymphoma two, a pro survival protein that keeps a cell alive.
After many months of experimenting and failing, the tenacity of the scientific team, working around the clock, led to a thrilling discovery, according to Souers.
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