Prostate cancer: developing new drugs to treat the disease
Prof Simon Mackay, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, in Strathclyde: What we’re trying to do is to specifically target signalling pathways that are associated with prostate cancer. So whereas drugs in the past have had more of a general approach and the associated side effects that come with that, what we’re trying to do is select prostate cancer cells specifically, so that when the drugs work, they only affect the prostate cancer cells and you don’t get side effects. When you’re doing drug discovery you can’t do it on your own. Because we’ve got biologists working with chemists working with clinicians we’ve got all of the appropriate expertise that can inform us on how to take it forward. And providing that you’re all working together and you’re all wanting to go in the same direction, it’s much easier to do that.
Dr Nahoum Anthony, Computational Chemist: I’m analysing data coming from the chemists and the biologists and I am essentially the link between the two teams. Computer models help you simulate and visualise drug candidates and how they interact with potential drug targets in the body.
Simon Mackay: What the computational chemist is trying to do is find out how well the keys - that are the plant chemicals - fit into the locks, which are the target proteins that we’re interested in.
Dr Sandy Gray: I work in the natural products research group. We try to isolate the compounds from plants which are active. So the idea is for the students who come to work with me to actually try and isolate the active ingredients of these plants and find out what makes them tick.
Dr Andrew Paul: Within the team my main role is to test any of the molecules that come from either the phyto-chemists, that’s the plant chemists, the synthetic chemists. The molecules they’re putting forward have to be tested in a biological setting.
Simon Mackay: It’s important that whenever you’re doing any drug discovery project that the context of the disease is always kept at the forefront so the clinicians are there to keep us focused on prostate cancer.
Prof Hing Leung: It’s very important for clinicians to work with scientists because we ultimately would assess any new treatments or novel treatments, to ask the questions, how effective these treatments are?
Simon Mackay: This project has a dedicated, enthusiastic team associated with it who are committed to drug discovery and committed to treating cancer.
Sandy Gray: There is a disease out there and I say let’s look for a cure, you know, simple as that!
Simon Mackay: Money donated towards this project will directly fund our work in treating prostate cancer. If it’s invested in, I’m very, very confident that something will come out of it.