Saturday, August 11, 2007

Good Science - California Edition

This morning's Los Angeles Times had a good story about molecular science. Here's the link to the full article but be aware that the L.A. Times is one of those annoying sites that requires a (free) registration. The story is:

"Science begins at home"
"Unwilling to let his wife down as she suffered through chemotherapy, a Caltech chemist shifts his molecular focus to find an easier treatment."

For those who can't or won't go to the link, Mark Davis was a professor of chemical engineering at Caltech when his wife was afflicted with breast cancer a number of years ago. During her horribly painful experience with the chemotherapy treatment she once cried out, isn't there anyone at Caltech capable of designing a less ravaging drug?

This changed his life, as he moved into a different field and started dealing with molecular biology. He was a "problem solver" by nature and had won some acclaim in chemical engineering. He started reading every piece of scientific literature on the subject he could lay his hands on. He was constantly seeing things that he thought might work, only to find out that in many cases they had been ruled out decades earlier.

He finally came up with an ingenious idea for linking the cancer-killing chemical to an agent that was too large to invade the cells of normally functioning organs - but small enough to get in to the cancer. He got a working prototype of the new drug, IT-101, and last summer began testing. The first 5 patients (all terminals) have had mixed results. None had the horrible side effects of the old treatment but two of them also received no benefit. However, the other three had the cancer stabilized and it did not progress.

Mark has now established a biology lab at Caltech and is working on other drugs as well. The tests on IT-101 continue. He was elected to the National Academy of Science last year. His wife, Mary, has been in remission for about a decade, but still worries about it recurring or that their daughter might someday be a cancer patient. The Times story was well worth reading in entirety.

For another "Good Science" story done U.K. style, go to "Why Don't You Blog" and check out Saturday's offering from Heather.

1 comment:

heather said...

Good story.

Thanks for the mention.

Love the Derren Brown videos as well