Low drug efficacy and safety concerns are the main reasons for late-stage withdrawal of drugs in clinical trials and account for 87% of all phase III submission failures.  Toxicity towards certain organs like the heart, liver or kidneys plays a central role in many of these unsuccessful trials. For the monitoring of tissue-specific toxicity, human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) are increasingly used as a powerful tool to develop cell models, since they are more relevant, scalable and reproducible model systems compared to traditional animal models and standard immortalized cell lines. Production, handling and differentiation of iPSC and other stem cell-derived models is very time-consuming and greatly benefits from automation. This article explores some of the factors to consider when automating for stem cell handling and differentiation.
Research using stem cells and stem cell-derived models holds huge promise for drug discovery and therapeutic applications. However, creating, characterizing, maintaining and expanding stem cell-derived models and therapeutics can be a time-consuming and error-prone bottleneck. The emergence of genetically engineered induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) has opened the door to more relevant and reproducible human model systems and scale-up strategies, yet many challenges remain when it comes to the practical application of iPSC in the lab. In this article we take a look at the advantages that iPSC technology brings as well as some of the main challenges that must be addressed to increase research output and quality.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced everyone to look at laboratory routines to see if they are really pandemic proof. For example, the explosive demand for high throughput genomic analysis often creates pressures upstream to process many more samples and prepare high quality DNA. The rapid shut down of non-essential workplaces and services coupled with the surge in demand for laboratory testing put immense strain on multiple aspects of normal laboratory operations such as strict rules on the need for personal protective equipment which was in limited supply and required physical distancing. Consumable stocks and reagents also dwindled as they were being used at a much faster rate and the supply chains were affected by global demand. Now that limitations of current laboratory routines have been highlighted, it’s time to consider how to make laboratories pandemic proof.
How do you prepare for the unexpected? The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light how challenging it is for labs and production facilities to scale up quickly in times of need. The sudden surge in demand for laboratory solutions at the very time that we are experiencing unprecedented constraints on the workforce and global supply chains is a wake-up call. This has put pressure on infrastructures in every sphere connected to the healthcare industry—from R&D and manufacturing to clinical diagnostics. Even relatively small labs and organizations have been required to rapidly shift focus and massively expand their outputs at an unprecedented rate.
There is, however, a silver lining: the current pandemic compels healthcare industry leaders to question the agility and scalability of their laboratory solutions—both now and in the future. With the advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS), the field of metagenomics has exploded in recent years, as scientists are now able to study microbes as communities instead of individual organisms. This has revolutionized our understanding of the relationships between microbiota, human health, and the environment.
Lab automation and liquid handling solutions are evolving rapidly, shaped by many of the same forces and disruptive technologies that define the fourth industrial revolution. Alongside Industry 4.0, you could say that the era of Liquid Handling 4.0 has arrived. In today’s fast-paced environment where engineers need to develop and adapt analytical platforms rapidly to address new markets and ever-changing applications, the choice of core robotics architecture and components can be crucial for success. Here are some important questions to ask when selecting OEM components and robotic platforms for automated liquid handling.
What happens when lab automation projects are unsuccessful? One out-take is learning what creates a stronger process and methodology. That's exactly what we found at Tecan after working with several hundred customers on lab automation for multiple projects. This presentation reveals the top 5 pitfalls of custom automation based on real experience.
With “fake news” topping the headlines these days, we’re painfully aware that hearing just part of the whole story can lead to seriously wrong ideas that can have embarrassing or even disastrous consequences. The same is true when analyzing cell populations. Every individual cell has its own story to tell, so population averages and random samples are often misleading. When running assays on a cell imaging system, microplate reader or flow cytometer, can you be sure you are getting the whole truth? If not, it may be time to consider whole-well imaging.
Automated lab analytics solutions are increasingly taking to the cloud to give labs real-time visibility of instrument and consumables usage. This is valuable information – for example to understand what throughput is available to scale up and complete programs in weeks and hours rather than months. But what about the worry of data security when implementing cloud-based software? Here are seven steps you can take to make sure your data stays safe in the cloud.
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is being increasingly recognized as having potential for the treatment of tumors, especially dermatological. But using conventional manual methods of recording the metabolic processes that occur as a result of adding the photosensitizer to target cells has major limitations.
As labs face tighter profit margins and the need to minimize cost of goods, there is increasing pressure to implement more efficient and responsive mechanisms for procurement and inventory management. A large proportion of annual spend goes towards consumables like disposable pipette tips, microplates and kits. Procurement strategies based on lean and ‘just-in-time’ principles can improve cost-efficiency by reducing overhead and warehousing expenses. However, this often comes with a significant risk: without enough data about both availability of consumables and what you have in stock, you could run into costly unexpected out-of-stock scenarios. Here are three essential questions to ask when looking to reduce the risks of creating leaner, ‘just-in-time’ procurement processes.
As a procurement planner in the competitive life sciences sector, how do you ensure your organization adapts swiftly to the rapidly changing demands of customers and stakeholders? Whether supporting a CRO, pharmaceutical company, clinical lab, biotech business or academic department, procurement teams are under constant pressure to manage risk, reduce costs and keep their organizations profitable. Advancements in technology and business practices are widening the influence of procurement on business operations, requiring procurement teams to collaborate even more closely with other functions, including lab management. Here are three major trends that are transforming procurement management:
Congratulations. It took you quite some time and effort to convince your management or institution on the value of investing in automating your experimental or clinical workflow. The applications were submitted, the presentations were made and the wheeling and dealing to secure the budget resulted in you and your team landing the investment. You've arrived. Now all you have to do is choose the robot and get it up and running.
The demand for advanced medical and diagnostic testing continues to accelerate. Laboratories, hospitals, and emerging consumer genomics companies are demanding quicker test sequences resulting in the design and development of new innovative and responsive test protocols. These new tests include the handling of a wide array of fluids. The measurement, monitoring, mixing, and controlling of solvents, salts, detergents, acids, bases, reagents, and additives is critical in all liquid handling lab environments.
When it’s time to move your biotechnology breakthrough towards commercialization, your specific application workflows may require a custom approach to lab automation. If your requirements are uncommon, there may be no off-the-shelf products available for you to compare and test. Even custom configuration of off-the-shelf components may not be suitable. What is the best approach to finding a custom solution that meets your unique needs?
The answer is to use a defined process that ensures each step is thoroughly explored and evaluated. Consider these four “I’s” of custom engineering: Investigate, Ideate, Invent and Integrate.
Are you guilty of making decisions without the data to back them up? In today’s busy labs, mission-critical decisions about laboratory equipment purchases, service contract renewals, consumables spending, and staffing are often made on the basis of incomplete information. Having a clear picture of instrument usage and burn rates of associated reagents and consumables can help you uncover new ways to cut costs and improve performance in the laboratory. In the previous article we highlighted how crucial it can be for labs to monitor instrument utilization data. Now let’s consider more specifically what you can learn from analyzing all this data.
You’ve done your testing on the benchtop and proven that your new biotechnology innovation works in your hands. Now comes the exciting part – turning your solution into a breakthrough product that is ready for broader use and commercial launch. To get there, you need to optimize your processes so that you can ensure they are robust, operate within defined tolerances, and facilitate scale-up. What’s the fastest and most efficient way to get this done so that you can focus on your next bioscience advancements?
As we move into the 2019 budget cycle with signs of a global economic slowdown on the horizon, laboratory administrators are no doubt feeling the heat. A combination of poor forecasting, inefficient use of resources, and a sudden economic downturn could create the perfect storm to capsize operations. Despite these high stakes, critical decisions about budget allocation, expensive equipment purchases, workflow optimization and cost-cutting strategies are often made based on incomplete information or even pure guesswork about laboratory asset utilization.
With biotechnology advancing at an astounding rate, last year’s innovations often become routine tools for today’s breakthroughs. For example, next generation sequencing (NGS) is now an integral step in CRISPR/Cas9 constructions. The interplay between hardware, software, and biotechnologies is continually in flux, as some developments see payoff more quickly than others, and emerging breakthroughs can suddenly change the game altogether. With such constant and unpredictable change, how can you ensure that your own innovations move smoothly from concept to solution as quickly as possible?
Budget constraints and short-term funding are a fact of life for most research labs. The problem can be particularly acute if you are working with living cells, which presents complex technical challenges. Working with precious or irreplaceable cell samples, for example when researching rare diseases, adds additional demands. To make matters worse, the types of assays, methods and instrumentation you need to answer complex biological questions in live cell models may change significantly during the course of your research.
Hot on the heels of a hugely successful SLAS2018 conference in San Diego last February, Tecan teamed up with Titian Software at the end of June to hold an equally popular SLAS2018 workshop in Brussels. The focus this time was on integrating Mosaic, Titian’s sample management software, with Tecan’s latest Fluent® and Fluent Gx laboratory automation workstations.
Cost-efficient application of advanced technologies such as next generation sequencing (NGS) and liquid-chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC-MS) demands sophisticated automation solutions that can handle complex protocols and evolving applications. However, if you are working in a clinical lab or other highly regulated environment then increasing instrument flexibility can make meeting compliance standards a real challenge. Before you buy, here are 5 key considerations to ensure you get the best of both worlds in terms of flexible functionality and compliance with your automated liquid handling system.
Butterfly disease has been called “the worst disease you’ve never heard of”. It’s an excruciatingly painful genetic condition that makes life miserable for the affected, and currently, there’s no cure. To make matters even worse, with as many as 27 different varieties of Epidermolysis bullosa (EB) and multiple genes/mutations, each patient is different, so there is no overarching, one-size-fits-all treatment solution. Despite its devastating effects on patients, mainly children and their families, funding is limited, as the disease is so rare: it affects only 1 in 20,000–50,000 of the population.
The challenge of drug discovery and development is putting increasing pressure on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to boost productivity through targeted and strategic improvements in the drug discovery workflow. Automation is clearly a way to significantly improve productivity and reproducibility, but only if you make wise decisions.
Funding for the study of rare diseases and medical conditions (sometimes called orphan diseases) is often limited and short-term, which can put off both basic research and pharma investment. Yet there are numerous reasons why rare diseases deserve much more attention than they currently receive, instead of being left like orphans out of the research picture. Is it time for academia, pharma, biotech and society in general to re-think our views about investing in the study and treatment of rare diseases and medical conditions? We think so, and we’ll present five reasons why.
Successful assay development is of utmost importance for cost-efficient drug discovery. In vitro and cell-based assays serve as a first step to evaluate the biological effects of chemical compounds by cellular, molecular or biochemical approaches. The derived assay readouts may be relevant to human health and disease and can identify potential therapeutic candidates in the drug development pipeline. Ensuring minimal cycle times for assay development is an essential step in making a drug discovery program more cost-efficient. In this article, we present the key challenges for reducing cycle time of assay development and what it takes to solve them.
In the pharmaceutical industry, stem cells play a growing role in all phases of drug discovery, from disease modeling and early target discovery to their use in developing innovative cell therapies. Increasingly, a major development impact factor for stem cells is their capacity to serve as a self-renewing, sustainable source of differentiated cell models to support predictive toxicity testing in early stage drug discovery.
Cell-based and in vitro assays are cornerstones of successful drug discovery and development, informing critical decision points at every stage of the process, from target identification through to pre-clinical testing. Poor assay choices can lead to irrelevant, variable or misleading results that translate into delays and costly program failures further down the line. Here we look at some recent assay technology trends that promise to improve productivity and reduce attrition rates in drug discovery and development. With them come new or more intense challenges for successful assay development and implementation, but in the long run, their added information content may make them the more cost-efficient alternatives.
The growing productivity crisis in drug discovery and development is forcing pharmaceutical companies large and small around the globe to rethink their research and development (R&D) strategies. As investors look to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for bigger returns, what will it take to maximize productivity and thrive in these challenging times?
Much of the work done in a genomics lab is repetitive, labor-intensive, and just plain boring. Is this really the best use of highly skilled scientists? How do you keep staff motivation up when another couple hundred samples roll into the lab? Most importantly, all this manual labor creates huge problems in terms of human error and amplified costs. Here are some major sources of tedium and error in the genomics lab where improvements can make a big impact—reducing costly errors, increasing productivity, and possibly even saving your sanity.
Always a great forum for networking and sharing information on the latest developments and trends in laboratory automation, SLAS didn’t disappoint this year. The biggest buzz in 2018 focused on the increasingly important role that genomics is playing in the discovery of therapeutic proteins and the ability to target those drugs to specific gene mutations.
They say that the era of the $100 genome is upon us, but is that true for you? While cost analyses of DNA sequencing indicate that this landmark is finally within reach, the reality is that most NGS labs are still spending far more than that. Here we explore some hidden costs of NGS that occur upstream of sequencing. How many of them are culprits in your lab?
Rapid advances in molecular diagnostics, including the application of advanced methods such as next generation sequencing (NGS) in clinical diagnostics, are revolutionizing healthcare. But this puts a lot of pressure on clinical labs to develop, optimize, validate and gain regulatory approval of high throughput assays. The secret to successful automation in the clinical regulatory environment lies in anticipating potential pitfalls.
An automated liquid handler for sample processing can significantly increase your productivity. It becomes even more powerful when integrated with other workflow components to enable you to create fully automated walkaway processing for applications such as sample and library prep for next generation sequencing (NGS), or cell-based assays. The question is how to choose components and integrate them.
Automated pipetting is among the most effective ways to minimize human error, increase precision and accuracy, and speed up a lab workflow. However, deciding what the ‘must have’ components are that you need for successful automated liquid handling depends greatly on your goals and applications.
Designing an effective biological screen is always a case of knowing when to quit versus when to keep going, so you don’t miss potentially important factors. When working with complex biological systems, rational screen design becomes even more of a challenge. A main presentation track at SLAS 2018 will focus on that question. Entitled "Assay Development and Screening", the track will include a number of relevant sessions, including "Screening to Optimize Chemical and Biological Space," chaired by Fred King, Ph.D., Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation. We spoke to Dr. King to learn more.
Next generation sequencing (NGS) and the related applications for cell-based assay development are poised to be a powerful combination in the field of genomics. SLAS 2018 dives into this topic in the track "Assay development and screening" which includes the session "Utilizing the power of NGS and genomics in screening," chaired by David Piper, Ph.D., Director, Research and Development, Cell and Synthetic Biology, Thermo Fisher Scientific. We spoke to Dr. Piper about the key topics, highlighted trends, and target audience for the talks and presenters he has prepared.
A main presentation track at SLAS2018 entitled "Cellular Technologies" will include the session "Development of Cellular Models for Phenotypic Screening," chaired by Kristen Brennand, Ph.D., New York Stem Cell Foundation-Robertson Investigator and Associate Professor, Departments of Genetics and Genomics, Neuroscience and Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY. We spoke to Dr. Brennand about the key topics, highlighted trends, and target audience for the talks and presenters he has prepared.
Biomarker discovery and development depends critically upon the accessibility and quality of biospecimens. Higher throughput and more integrated approaches for biospecimen management and biobanking are becoming increasingly important to avoid industry bottlenecks, as the number and diversity of samples expands rapidly. The track entitled "Biologics Discovery" at SLAS 2018 will include the session "Biobanking: At the Intersection of Biospecimens and Discovery." We interviewed the chair of the session, Dr. Andy Zaayenga of SmarterLab, to find out more.
In the rapidly evolving, data-driven life sciences sector, it is increasingly common to see labs developing their own in-house solutions to enable scale-up of novel methods, and to bridge technology gaps not yet filled by automation providers. The track "Automation and High-Throughput Technologies" at SLAS 2018 includes the session "In-House Automation: Devices and Software Developed Internally," which will explore this growing trend. We interviewed the session chair, Louis Scampavia, Ph.D., of The Scripps Research Institute to learn more.
From phenotypic assays to 4D cell tracking, high-tech methods are of increasing importance for complex screens. This expanding area will be a main presentation track at SLAS 2018 entitled "Assay Development and Screening" and co-chaired by Dr. Ralph Garippa, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Dr. Edward Ainscow, Carrick Therapeutics. Dr. Garippa provides more insight on this timely and broad-ranging track, which will highlight case histories in assay development, implementation for high throughput screening (HTS) campaigns, and triaging for hit confirmation.
High throughput screening methods for phenotypic drug discovery are in demand, as novel disease models arise and increase in complexity. A main presentation track at SLAS2018 entitled "Automation and High-throughput Technologies" will include the session "Automating Target-Based and Complex Phenotypic Drug Discovery," chaired by Shane Horman, Ph.D. of the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation. We spoke with Dr. Horman to learn more about the key topics, highlighted trends, and target audience for the session.
Phenotypic screening is back, with exciting implications for the discovery of new and more effective drugs. The reason? Constantly improving cellular technologies and instrumentation, and drug discovery and development programs bringing us closer to truly realizing the potential of precision medicine.
Automated liquid handling can eliminate many tedious tasks, improve your productivity and free up valuable time for better things…but only if you implement the right solutions. Whether you are working in genomics, cell biology, drug discovery, molecular diagnostics or something completely different, the right liquid handling system can make your life a lot easier. We’ve collected some of the most important questions to consider before taking the plunge with a new automated liquid handling system.
Like gravity, some phenomena are so integral to our existence that we’re barely conscious of them. Maybe that’s why the research community was largely taken by surprise when it was announced that this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three American scientists for their seminal work on circadian clocks ¹. But consider the synergies with next gen sequencing (NGS) and gene editing technologies, and it becomes clear that the implications of their work are far-reaching.
The repeatability of biomedical research has become a major issue, and the ability to achieve reproducible research results can only be as good as the liquid handling performance. Automation has become a given step in the drive to generate reproducible data so how well can automated liquid handling perform in, for example, genomics applications?
Cognitive computing and artificial intelligence have the power to save us from drowning in the vast and growing sea of data needed for precision medicine, but what will it take to achieve a timely return on investment? Experts from multiple disciplines will gather to share their perspectives on this challenging problem at the upcoming Tecan Symposium in Salt Lake City on November 14th.
Data driven decision-making depends on generating reliable data in a timely fashion. But the reproducibility of biomedical research results, or rather lack of it, has become a big issue. A recent Nature survey¹ revealed a “reproducibility crisis” in the research community, with 70% of respondents having failed to reproduce the work of other researchers, and over half even failing to reproduce their own results.
The drive to make healthcare more targeted and more personalized has accelerated the application of increasingly sophisticated technologies, such as next generation sequencing (NGS). The result has been the introduction of some NGS-based tests to be used to direct targeted therapies to the right patient. The power is great, but the challenges are many, including how to standardize for routine use.
At Tecan, we’ve been solving lab automation problems for over thirty years. In planning for SLAS, I was asked an interesting question: what are the main automation challenges that people face in drug discovery and screening? I can break them down into categories, and illustrate them with the most common requests that we get.
In an increasingly regulated industry, clinical laboratories and manufacturers of in vitro diagnostic (IVD) tests are feeling the pressure to ensure regulatory compliance, while at the same time striving to increase productivity and bring innovative technologies on stream. At times, this balancing act can seem like a losing proposition.
Hospitals are becoming the new centers of innovation for novel clinical diagnostic tests. While this is enabling more sophisticated and personalized approaches to disease prevention, early diagnosis, and targeted treatment, it also has the potential to create major headaches for regulatory management of clinical labs.
Why would you want to miniaturize your PCR experiments if they are working well as they are? Because manual PCR setup is tedious and hand pipetting is error-prone. Miniaturization allows for automation, minimizing the labor- and time-intensive aspects of PCR setup and the risks of manual error and cross-contamination.
As we have seen in the previous posts in this series, developing validated analytical methods becomes more cost- and time-effective when solutions with guaranteed compatibility are incorporated into the analytical system.
A long-term clinical lab study lasting over 10 years showed that more than 60% of all mistakes in the stat lab (the lab that receives high priority samples) can be attributed to the pre-analytical phase. This figure has not changed much from 1997 to 2007,1, 2 despite advances in the technology.
Well-documented reliable, accurate data that meets regulatory demands is crucial for success The key is to develop robust analytical methods based on instruments and other components that perform well together to ease the way forward through Installation Qualification and Operational Qualification (IQ/OQ) and method validation.
Robert Tanguary runs a zebrafish facility and use zebrafish as a high throughput in vivo model system to identify bioactive molecules. Essentially, they do rapid systems toxicology using zebrafish models to study the adverse effects of tens of thousands of chemicals beginning with a single-celled zebrafish embryo through a fully formed and functional organism.
SLAS2017 Presentation by Joy Rae-Radecki Crandall, Ambry Genetics
Ambry Genetics operates a CLIA-licensed genetics testing laboratory that processes clinical samples primarily using next-generation sequencing (NGS), followed by Sanger sequencing to verify clinically relevant results and reduce false positives.
SLAS2017 Presentation by Chris Millan, CTO, CellSpring
CellSpring’s 3D Bloom® biopolymer platform is based on an engineered extracellular matrix that supports the growth of cells in a 3D culture environment in the laboratory.Most cell types, including stem cells, primary cells, and solid tumor cells, can be grown in 3D culture in 96-well plates using the CellSpring technology.
SLAS2017 Presentation by Dr. Bernhard Ellinger, Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology, IME, Hamburg, Germany
Fraunhofer IME has had very good success using the Tecan Fluent® to perform fully automated screening of smaller compound batches rapidly and accurately, in parallel against multiple analytes and with multiple readouts.
SLAS2017 Presentation by Siegfried Sasshofer, Product Manager, Tecan
The ability to reduce data variability can help greatly increase your confidence in your results. Statistically significant experimental results may not actually be achieved if you review your data and find the margin of error is too high. What do scientists typically do?
Scinomix, Inc., founded in 2001, creates customized solutions for labeling tubes, vials and plates in many life science applications. We took the chance to ask Nigel Malterer (CEO) and Jonathan King (Automation Software Engineer) at Scinomix about how automated barcode labeling solutions are helping to improve productivity, reduce errors and costs, and increase control over lab workflows.
Barcodes play a central role in minimizing the risk of error in lab automation by providing secure tracking of components throughout the workflow. Barcode-guided lab automation can be simple and cost-effective, with significant paybacks thanks to productivity increases.
As we have learned in previous posts in this series, only pipette tips marked ‘sterile’ are guaranteed with a sterility assurance level (SAL) of 10-6. Pipette tips labeled as ‘Pre-sterile’ do not give such sterility assurances.
The life science industry is constantly fighting to improve throughput and reduce costs through the ‘industrialization’ of research and development. You have to strike a balance between moving quickly (productivity) and ensuring that you are actually moving in the right direction (quality). Lab automation, including automated liquid handling, plays an essential role in ramping up productivity. Ensuring high quality liquid handling is therefore the key to securing the reliable data you need to meet your program goals.
The industrialization of biology has become possible thanks to the automation of repetitive tasks such as liquid handling, providing several benefits. It allows customers to extend their window of operations, achieve greater assay consistency and refocus expertise away from repetitive processes. In addition, moving manual steps, such as pipetting into the control of robots also enables secure downsizing of formats, including sample and reagent volumes.
Robotics and automation have become essential to the future plans of drug discovery and clinical diagnostic companies. Executives are looking to increase productivity and reduce costs, and automation fits the bill in every respect.
In this video presentation from SLAS 2016, Joe Zer, an Associate Scientist at Dart NeuroScience, working in a CMG lab that handles over 1000 compounds a week from different sources, explains in detail why his company started using Fluent®.
With years of experience in lab automation, Wolfgang Jörg at Boehringer Ingelheim needed to find a new automation solution for a colleague working with compound management. Presenting at SLAS 2016, Wolfgang said, “We decided to test Fluent® 780. Tecan loaned us the system for free to test for six months providing we agreed to purchase if the system met our expectations.” With its high throughput, flexibility and accuracy, the system exceeded their expectations and has become a critical component in their high throughput compound management solution.
Now that phenotypic screening is well and truly back, how do you take advantage of its many benefits, especially if you’ve already made a considerable commitment to target-based screening? The simple answer is: you combine the two.
As Product Manager for Liquid Handling and Robotics at Tecan, I had the opportunity to introduce the power of the Tecan D300e Digital Dispenser at SLAS2016. You can view the presentation here. Without giving too much away, all you need to do is add your liquid and the dispenser does the rest.
(Part 2 of 2. Read Part I). In 1948, Bill Koster of the Variety Club of New England and Dr. Sidney Farber working at the Children’s Hospital Boston had launched The Children's Cancer Research Fund, aimed at supporting a hospital dedicated to the research of childhood leukemia. But they needed a poster child to boost fundraising.
In his book, The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee tells the story of one of the turning points in the history of cancer medicine. A turning point that he dates to May 1947. In this two-part article we will look at how cancer research has been transformed by fundraising.
(Part 3 of 3: Read Part 2)In the first part of this series, we introduced you to imatinib (Gleevec). This drug was originally launched in 2001 as a potent treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). It also proved to be effective against a number of other cancers. Here we look at possibilities for individualized treatment.
(Part 2 of 3: Read part 1) 'The so-called ‘War against Cancer’ started with US President Richard Nixon’s National Cancer Act of 1971. It turned out to be many battles on many fronts as cancer was confirmed to be not one but a myriad of diseases. Not only that, but each cancer cell in a given patient has a different genetic make-up.
In 1996, Dr. Charles Sawyers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, USA, became involved in the initial testing of a drug for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). The drug, imatinib (later to be launched as Gleevec), could be taken once a day with few side effects and had a dramatic clinical result. Even patients in advanced stages of the disease, reliant on oxygen and with only a few weeks to live, became symptom-free almost immediately. The trouble was, those same patients quickly developed a resistance to the drug and suffered a relapse.