ICAN® Scientific Advisory Council

Enhancing and Accelerating Anticancer Drug Discovery through ICAN’s Scientific Advisory Council

ICAN's Scientific Advisory Council is working to increase both intramural and extramural funding for anticancer drug discovery at the National Cancer Institute ("NCI") – particularly for the area of organic chemistry in which anticancer compounds are isolated from sources in nature, such as marine invertebrates, terrestrial plants, and microorganisms. Such isolation or discovery work is accomplished by organic chemists, medicinal chemists, synthetic organic chemists, and/or natural products chemists.

ICAN's goal is to enhance the drug discovery areas within the National Cancer Institute and focus more federal dollars on the area of science that is most likely to be productive in stabilizing and ultimately curing human cancer patients – the discovery of more effective anticancer drugs that will ultimately either replace or enhance some of the platinum, anthracycline, and taxane compounds in use today. Many of the major medical advances in the world have been derived from nature: aspirin, morphine, codeine, penicillin, tetracycline, drugs that ameliorate Alzheimer's and depression, as well as some of the most potent anticancer drugs used by oncologists today: vincristine and vinblastine from the Madagascar periwinkle; paclitaxel or Taxol from the Pacific Yew tree; and camptothecin from the Chinese camptotheca tree, to name just a few.

Among leading anticancer drug discoverers in the nation is the chair of ICAN's Scientific Advisory Council and Arizona State University's Regents Professor of Cancer Research and Medical Chemistry, Dr. G. Robert Pettit, an internationally recognized organic chemist who received of the American Chemical Society’s prestigious Guenther Award in the Chemistry of Natural Products – the top prize in the area, second only to the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. ICAN works closely with Dr. Pettit on issues of mutual concern involving accelerating and enhancing the nation’s anticancer drug pipeline. In June, 2000, IFADD (now ICAN) worked with Congressman Dan Burton and his staff of the Government Operations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives to safeguard and preserve the leading laboratory at the NCI that was focusing on anticancer drug discovery. Dr. Pettit’s comprehensive testimony on June 8, 2000, on behalf of this effort, went far toward ultimately reinvigorating vital anticancer drug discovery efforts at the NCI.

ICAN believes that if there is an answer to many of the cancers now plaguing the world, the majority of those answers may well be found by organic chemists and synthetic organic chemists, who have both the creative legacy and the well-established record of not only isolating anticancer compounds but also seeing those drugs through the hurdles of preclinical development and on toward clinical trials.

Congratulations to Dr. G. R. Pettit, Chairman of ICAN's Scientific Advisory Council and Regents Professor at Arizona State University, and his esteemed scientists at the former ASU Cancer Research Institute, for the discovery of combretastatin a-1 (OXi-4503), isolated from the combretum caffrum, the South African bushwillow tree which is both a vascular targeting agent and a cytotoxic agent.

The FDA has just granted orphan drug status to the drug (which was licensed to OXiGENE) for AML, acute myelogenous leukemia.

To make a tribute gift honoring Dr. Pettit and his team which had isolated and synthesized CA1P (OXi4503), please go to donation page and join the well-wishers.

More about Dr. Bob Pettit

Read what fellow scientists say about Dr. Pettit...

Cancer Care for the New Millenium
Historic Hearings before the Committee on Government Reform, House of Representatives
June 7-8, 2000