$6 million Grant Funds Anticancer Drug Discovery Research

Nov. 2, 2000

Arizona Cancer Center researcher Dr. Garth Powis, hasreceived a $6 million Novel Cancer Drug Discovery Grant (NCDDG) from theNational Cancer Institute. The five-year grant will support thediscovery of effective new agents against cancer that target the uniquepathways cancer cells use to grow, communicate with other cells andavoid natural cell death.

"We are entering an era now where technology has opened the door for usto identify anticancer drugs that specifically target cancer cells,leaving healthy cells untouched," explains Powis, director of basicresearch at the Arizona Cancer Center. "This grant will specificallyfocus on our efforts to identify, screen and develop a series of diversecompounds that target the unique characteristics of cancer cells withthe ultimate goal of bringing these new agents into clinical trials."

The arsenal of cancer drugs commonly used to treat cancer today attackcells that are rapidly dividing, Dr. Powis says. Rapidly dividing cellsnot only include cancer cells, but also healthy cells that line ourgastrointestinal tract and cells generated in our bone marrow. Thisresults in the side effects most commonly associated with cancertreatment is nausea, vomiting and decreased blood cell counts.

"This new approach to cancer drug discovery will result in compoundsthat minimize or even eliminate treatment-related side effects becauseonly the cancer cell will be impacted," Powis says. In addition toresearchers from the University of Arizona, the NCDDG will involveresearch collaborations with Duke University Medical Center in Durham,N.C., and the University of Pittsburgh and Pro1X Pharmaceuticals inPittsburgh.




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