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Research overview

Professor Paul Workman, Signal Transduction & Molecular Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacology & Trials teams

Professor Workman's personal research laboratory, the Signal Transduction and Molecular Pharmacology Team, focuses on the molecular pharmacology and mechanism of action of innovative molecular cancer therapeutic agents. There is particular emphasis on exploiting stress and chaperone pathways and also on oncogenic signal transduction pathways as targets for new drugs.

The Team collaborates with other Teams in the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit and the ICR, particularly with the screening, biology and medicinal chemistry Teams, to identify new chemical tools and design potent and selective drug candidates. For example, the Team carried out the cellular and molecular pharmacology work to discover the leading HSP90 molecular chaperone inhibitor NVP-AUY922 and the leading PI3 kinase inhibitor GDC-0941, both of which are now showing promising activity in Phase I clinical trials.

The Team uses chemical tools and drugs alongside molecular genetic technologies to identify and validate drug targets as well as predictive and mode of action biomarkers. The Team employs a combination of hypothesis-driven approaches together with genome-wide screening and chemical library strategies to interrogate cancer biology and discover innovative small molecule agents that exploit the addictions, dependencies and vulnerabilities of cancer cells. This approach is referred to as “drugging the cancer genome”.

The Team collaborates with clinical colleagues in the Unit, the ICR and The Royal Marsden to support the clinical assessment of new drugs in hypothesis-driven biomarker-rich clinical trials. There is strong emphasis on the use of the “Pharmacological Audit Trail” that was conceptualised by Professor Workman.

Overall, the Team’s objective is to improve the lives of cancer patients through the discovery and development of personalised molecular medicines.

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Research overview Publications

Division of Cancer Therapeutics

The Division of Cancer Therapeutics has an unrivalled track record at discovering novel cancer treatments and biomarkers.