WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Developing new medicines is a long, complex process. On average, it takes at least 10-12 years for a new medicine to complete the journey from initial discovery to becoming part of a patient's treatment regimen. In some cases, however, it can take even longer.
Nearly 30 years ago, the scientific community identified BCL-2 proteins and their role in blocking the ability of cells in the body to undergo a process called programmed cell death or apoptosis, through which the body gets rid of damaged cells. In a person with cancer, this important process does not function right; rather than helping the body kill unhealthy tumor cells, BCL-2 proteins block the ability of tumors to die, allowing the cancer to spread.
Twenty years ago, researchers at AbbVie (then known as Abbott) set out to determine if they could develop a medicine to fight cancer by stopping BCL-2 proteins from preventing programmed cell death and allowing tumor cells to die. In a new video, AbbVie researchers who participated in this decades-long journey share their experiences, the challenges they faced and why the ability to harness BCL-2 to fight cancer is so important. This tireless commitment has been exemplified time and again by our member companies – and no exception are researchers at AbbVie, who worked for more than 20 years to develop an innovative, new medicine – called a BCL-2 inhibitor – to improve outcomes for people fighting blood cancers like chronic lymphocytic leukemia or CLL.
"This is a really interesting way to think about targeting cancer, by enhancing the ability of cells to die," said Saul Rosenberg, Ph.D., senior director of oncology research at AbbVie, who worked on the research and development of the company's BCL-2 inhibitor for more than two decades.
"The ability to block BCL-2's action was very, very challenging, but ultimately, we found one molecule that could be successful," said Michael Severino, AbbVie's chief scientific officer.
The AbbVie team, who initially worked with colleagues at Genentech and Roche to bring the BCL-2 inhibitor to patients, is hopeful they can continue build on the successes achieved in CLL by using BCL-2 inhibitors in other cancer types.
"We're just scraping the surface of what this drug may end up being able to do," said Rosenberg. "I think most of us aren't stepping back and saying 'Oh, this great.' We're focused on what's next."
Learn more about cancer medicines in development here.
This post originally appeared here: http://catalyst.phrma.org/
Contact: Andrew Powaleny; 202-835-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org
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SOURCE Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)