Feb 12, 2012 - 5:08 pm
Here's a link to a press release for the new drug trial my niece and her team have been working on.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the research facility that my niece Laura works at. She was a biology major in college and after spending some time working at a major pharmaceutical company she switched gears and got involved with R&D for cancer drugs. It’s not at the same firm she had been at, this is a smaller facility which shall remain nameless. We can’t be giving away trade secrets now can we?
While this company is not the largest it doesn’t take away from the fact that they are doing very important research with cancer drugs and the targeting of cancer with new drugs. That really seems to be where the industry is headed which I believe is a great thing. The idea it to kill the cancer by starving it in some cases or by delivering chemo only to diseased cells. My oldest son Dylan, is interested in Biology so Laura set it up so we could take a little tour of the facility and learn more about what she does. She had also prepped some colon cancer cells for us ;-)
It was very interesting to see the "enemy" face to petri dish. These little (bastards) cells can wreak such havoc on us. One popular drug used to fight colon cancer is Avastin. I know that many have been on that at some point. I was on it one month after the FDA approved it back in 2004 and stayed on it for five months. The way that Avastin works is that it helps to prevent new blood vessels from forming and feeding the tumor which in turn starves, kills, or shrinks the tumor. To look at tumors as the complex growths that they are, they possess certain qualities that once they are better understood can be used to help to control their growth. That's where Laura comes in. She's part of a research team that looks at certain drugs and/or tumors and is working on figuring out what makes them tick so to speak. They are learning new things all of the time. Part of the testing also involves using mice in studies. It's not her favorite part of the research but it's a very important part. Mice are given cancer cells that soon grow into tumors, then the tumors are treated with whatever drug they are testing and the results are measured and documented.
Like everything else in medicine, this can be a long process from the idea, to the lab, to testing in animals, to clinical trials, and on to FDA approval but it was so fascinating (for me) to see some of this in practice after having some understanding of how the process works. On another note, one of the current members of the Board of Directors had worked for another pharmaceutical company that had developed a cure for a very specific type of blindness that affected a relatively small group of people. While many shareholders were not too keen on pursuing this further because there wasn't a large financial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, this member stressed that they had an obligation to help people and not to base all decisions on profits. I found that to be very noble and refreshing.
I'm SO proud of my niece Laura for the work that she does, the enthusiasm she does it with, and that she could be working for a larger company for more money but instead is doing something she believes in and is trying to make a difference in the world.