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Monday May 22, 2017
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Breakthrough

 

continued

"Our socks were just knocked off. You know, couldn't believe it."

Many chemicals will destroy tumors in mice, but only at doses so high that they cripple or kill the host mice. These mice appeared fine. And though it's much easier to cure cancer in mice than in humans, the impeccable science behind this drug made it especially promising.

The mouse experiments took place in 2001, after six years of grueling work by a team at the massive Parke-Davis pharmaceutical research complex. (Pfizer took over Parke-Davis, and the labs, in 2000.) After making hundreds of compounds and conducting thousands of experiments, chemists under the direction of project co-leader Peter Toogood had synthesized the drug, known internally as PD-0332991.

At the time, Fry and Toogood could not have imagined that it would take more than a dozen years to bring the promising drug to market. (It's still not quite there.) Pfizer shut down the local labs six years ago. But like an echo that grows louder with time, its products are still making an impact.

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