Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What type of cancer do you work on?

Are you writing a science thriller?  What about a mystery with a forensic component?  If you're seeking advice from an expert in the sciences, look no farther than Katrina Stone, professional biologist and protagonist of "The Vesuvius Isotope."  To learn more about Katrina's areas of expertise, click here.  To ask a question of your own, click here.  Below, a reader asks:

What type of cancer do you work on?

Katrina's answer:

I do not work on a specific type of cancer. I work in early stage drug discovery – that is, finding the best drug in the first place, long before it enters human clinical trials. Once it enters the clinic, a cancer drug goes first into “Phase I”. Phase I trials are safety trials, but they also guide clinicians toward an “indication” (type of cancer) that seems appropriate for that drug. So, the majority of cancer drugs find their niche in Phase II of the clinic.  This is several years after the drug has left my hands.

However, early stage discovery efforts (my focus) are frequently geared toward looking for a drug that will be applied to a certain indication. To pick this indication, we balance the probability of success (is it a cancer that CAN be treated?) with unmet medical need (are there enough patients that have this type of cancer?) and other factors.

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