The team behind skin cancer drug vismodegib has won The British Pharmacological Society’s first ever annual Drug Discovery of the Year award.
Vismodegib, a drug for the treatment of basal cell carcinoma – a type of skin cancer, was discovered by Genentech, based in San Francisco, California, and jointly validated by Genentech and Curis through a series of studies.
BPS President, Professor Routledge, presented the award to the Clinical Pharmacologist and acting Global Development Leader for vismodegib at Genentech, Rick Graham, who collected the award on behalf of his research team at the Society’s annual meeting in London yesterday. Thirteen researchers worked on vismodegib.
BPS said the award has been created to celebrate the importance of pharmacology in the development of new medicines.
"We are delighted by the number and high quality of the applications for Drug Discovery of the Year, all of which demonstrated the importance of pharmacology in drug discovery," said Routledge.
"Pharmacologists in the health service, academia and industry play a crucial role in developing new medicines."
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Vismodegib, also known under its trade name Erivedge, treats basal cell carcinoma by selectively targeting and blocking abnormal signals in the pathway involved in regulating growth and development in the early stages of life, which is also known as the Hedgehog signaling pathway.
In some people, the Hedgehog signaling pathway becomes less active or malfunctions, which has been shown to play a role in the development of certain cancer types.
Treatment with vismodegib has proved to provide significant clinical benefit and to set a new standard of care for patients with this potentially disfiguring and debilitating disease. It is approved for use in the US and Mexico.
Dr Mark Christie, a BPS Trustee who chaired the judging panel, confirms; "We are proud to recognise the excellent work of the vismodegib team. While all the nominations were underpinned by strong pharmacological research, there was unanimous support from the judges for vismodegib, which was distinguished by a detailed understanding of the dose and effect of the drug."
The winning team was selected by a judging panel of experts in industrial pharmacology, following nominations made to BPS by its members worldwide.