Current therapeutic options for the majority of advanced cancers remain inadequate, highlighting the need for discovery of new anticancer agents directed against novel targets. The mission of the Division of Clinical and Molecular Pharmacology is to investigate the effectiveness of cancer chemotherapeutic agents in order to develop novel molecular-targeted cancer therapies.
We study drug mechanisms in DNA damage and repair, signal transduction and DNA synthesis. In addition, we seek to understand mechanisms of drug resistance. Understanding these mechanisms allows us to design more effective drugs. We continue to expand our clinical research in pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic and, more recently, pharmacogenomics studies of investigational drugs, which enable us to obtain a clear picture of how these drugs impact the patient. The division aims to bridge the gap between the development of promising new drugs and their application in the clinic.
Molecular pharmacology uses sophisticated techniques such as computer modeling to identify novel therapeutic targets, e.g., receptors, in cancer. This enables our researchers to design new compounds as well as screen leading drug candidates, such as natural products, from our drug screening program that fit the mechanism of action dictated by the specified molecular target. This process is called target validation.
Once target molecules are identified and promising drug candidates are selected, it is crucial to understand the clinical pharmacology of the compounds, that is, how they behave in actual patients. Key research areas within Clinical Pharmacology include pharmacokinetics (the study of drug disposition), pharmacodynamics (drug effects) and pharmacogenomics - the study of genetically inherited determinants of drug response and toxicity.
Translational research involves conducting pre-clinical studies on experimental drug therapies and post-clinical analyses on clinical samples. Laboratory-based investigations examine at the molecular level the mechanisms of action and resistance of anticancer agents, including both novel and traditional chemotherapeutic drugs, immunotherapeutics and combinations of anticancer agents and antibodies. The lab helps to facilitate communication between scientists and clinicians studying molecular genetic responses of cells to potential therapeutic compounds, as well as to identify and/or develop biomarkers for targeted therapy.