Director's message: Researchers vital to new drug development

Volume 6, Issue 4, 2017

Summary

An old Mayo Clinic hypothesis inspires the discovery of a potential new drug for breast cancer.

Robert B. Diasio, M.D., director, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center

Robert B. Diasio, M.D.

You can hardly turn on the television these days without seeing an advertisement for a new drug developed by the pharmaceutical industry. The volume and pace of pharma-driven drug development is truly breathtaking.

But can the pharmaceutical industry alone meet the needs of all patients? Probably not.

In this issue of Forefront, you can read about Z-endoxifen, a new drug being developed by Mayo Clinic investigators in collaboration with researchers outside of the pharmaceutical industry.

Z-endoxifen is a derivative of the drug tamoxifen, which is given to women with estrogen receptor positive metastatic breast cancer, the most common form of breast cancer in women whose disease has spread. Unfortunately, the efficacy of tamoxifen varies among women, and the drug does not work at all for about 30 percent of women with that type of breast cancer.

More than a decade ago, Mayo Clinic researchers hypothesized that a key reason tamoxifen may not work for all women with breast cancer may lie in how the body processes the drug. The hypothesis led to the development of Z-endoxifen, a potent metabolite of tamoxifen.

The development of Z-endoxifen stemmed from collaboration between Mayo Clinic and the National Cancer Institute, along with other government, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. It's a great example of the value of collaboration and public funding of cancer research.

You can read more about the results of a first-in-human phase I study of Z-endoxifen in this issue of Forefront.

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From everyone at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, we wish you happy holidays and a blessed 2018.

Robert B. Diasio, M.D.

  • Director, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center
  • William J. and Charles H. Mayo Professor