From creating our first medicine to come to market, to pursuing a pipeline focused on the toughest cancers to treat, AbbVie’s oncology scientists understand that outsmarting cancer takes a potent combination of courage, scientific prowess and strategy.
“When you’re trying to find new treatments for patients facing unrelenting cancers, there’s an obvious urgency to the work,” says Rod A. Humerickhouse, M.D., Ph.D., group project leader, oncology development, AbbVie. “But you need to balance the impatience you feel, wanting answers now, with the reality of drug discovery in this area… disappointment is part of the job description, but you have to funnel that frustration, learn from your experiences and use that to propel you forward.”
We've taken the time to look back at where we started, and examine how that pioneering spirit informs how we’re moving ahead. We also asked some of our oncology leaders to share how we’re joining with our community and our industry to prepare for what’s to come in the battle against cancer.
Breaking the rules and paving the way
Back in the 1990s, a group of AbbVie scientists were fixated on understanding the way cells die – and why cancer cells were so resistant to whatever this process was. Finding answers to these questions not only resulted in a new treatment option and a future of possibilities in treating several forms of blood cancer, but also paved the way for researchers around the world to create innovative medicines.
Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) might well be considered the Jeckyl and Hyde of the body. When working correctly, it helps immune function; when it goes awry, it can lead to the proliferation of B cells instrumental to the development of leukemia or lymphoma. Could research on the ugly side of BTK result in new treatments for certain B cell cancers? AbbVie researchers explain why they’re determined to find out.
Hope for tomorrow
Many of the treatments available to cancer patients today were just pipe dreams when Danelle James, M.D., M.A.S. started her career in oncology. As we enter the era of personalized medicine, James explains why drug discovery isn’t simply about attacking cancer anymore: now, it’s also about protecting a patient’s quality of life.
Could reframing cancer as a chronic condition change the way we approach treatment? An oncology medical director imagines a paradigm shift that could face the challenge of recurrence head on – and explains how we’re getting closer to making this a reality.
When asked about acute myeloid leukemia (AML), doctors, researchers and patient advocates almost always answer with the same word: devastating. As we look to options for those with this pervasively aggressive disease, an AbbVie researcher explains why for older patients in particular, AML is a complex cancer to treat.