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Vanderbilt joins national consortium to develop new cancer therapies
Date:8/19/2009

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Vanderbilt University has been selected as one of 10 centers in the nation to participate in the Chemical Biology Consortium (CBC), a major new initiative to facilitate the discovery and development of new agents to treat cancer.

As one of four Chemical Diversity Centers, Vanderbilt's role in the consortium will be to synthesize and optimize new compounds as potential cancer therapeutics.

"This is a real tribute to our growth in cancer chemistry and the leverage between the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology (VICB) and the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC)," said Lawrence Marnett, Ph.D., the Mary Geddes Stahlman Professor of Cancer Research and director of the VICB.

Alex Waterson, Ph.D., research assistant professor of Pharmacology and director of the VICB's Chemical Synthesis Core, will lead efforts developing small molecule drug candidates. Gary Sulikowski, Ph.D., Stevenson Professor of Chemistry and a co-director of the core, will direct projects involving natural products.

Designed to accelerate the discovery and development of effective, first-in-class targeted therapies, the CBC will choose high-risk targets that are of low interest to the pharmaceutical industry. The CBC is a National Cancer Institute initiative administered by contractor SAIC-Frederick, Inc.

"It's exciting in the sense that, right off the bat, (the NCI) said that the goal of this program is to develop drugs for cancer treatment," said Sulikowski. "They're looking for unique targets, unique approaches, and they think that academia may offer that."

"Oftentimes pharmaceutical companies will not go after targets that are not expected to be huge blockbusters," said Waterson, who came to Vanderbilt in 2008 from GlaxoSmithKline where he had worked for seven years on oncology drug development projects. "So an effort like this can fill in a niche that industry is not taking on at the moment."

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Contact: Melissa Marino
melissa.marino@vanderbilt.edu
615-322-4747
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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