The Drug Discoverer

A blog by our Chief Executive, Professor Paul Workman

As research tools improve, our use of them must evolve too – we’re here to help

Professor Paul Workman discusses the increased numbers of high-quality chemical tools available to study specific proteins in biomedical research, and what needs to be done to ensure they are used appropriately by biomedical researchers. Chemical probes, usually inhibitors, are getting better and better – and researchers using them need to catch up.

Reflecting on DeepMind’s AlphaFold artificial intelligence success – what’s the real significance for protein folding research and drug discovery?

In a long read, Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive and President of the ICR, and also a drug discovery scientist, reflects on the significance of the latest version of AlphaFold – a powerful AI system that has been applied to predict structures for almost 99% of human proteins – for fundamental research and drug discovery.

Funding cuts create perfect storm that could capsize cancer research in the UK

The UK’s science budget faces catastrophic cuts – on top of the alarming impact of Covid-19 on medical research organisations. Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of the ICR, warns that without a change in course from the Government, cancer research in the UK is heading for a perfect storm with an impact that could last decades.

Trying to drug the apparently undruggable, and what it can teach us

Professor Paul Workman reflects in depth on his experience in trying to drug a particularly challenging cancer target, and why it is always important to be clear about the risks and benefits of a drug discovery project – and to share the results with the research community.

Climbing the peaks of drug discovery – tackling the most challenging targets with ingenuity and realism

Professor Paul Workman argues that creating drugs is a bit like climbing mountains – and as with scaling a craggy slope versus a smooth wall of rock, tackling some disease targets is easier than others.

Book published in tribute to the late Dr Susan Lindquist – HSF1 and Molecular Chaperones in Biology and Cancer

With the publication of a monograph in her honour, in which he contributed an article, Professor Paul Workman celebrates the outstanding scientific achievements of the late Dr Susan Lindquist in the field of protein folding and its application to cancer and neurodegenerative disease. He also explains how her work has underpinned several of his drug discovery projects at the ICR.

Understanding the off-target effects of cancer drugs – and how they could lead us to new forms of treatment

Professor Paul Workman explores how an understanding of the 'off-target' effects of drug treatments has the potential to help uncover contributions to both the beneficial action of drugs and also the unwanted side-effects.

‘Cure or nothing’ doesn’t capture the realities of modern cancer research and treatment

While curing cancer will always be the ultimate goal for the ICR's researchers, Professor Paul Workman argues that it's vital we understand and accept new evolutionary approaches to treatment that can control even advanced cancers long term.

UK science needs a clear plan for the future

If science in the UK is going to remain world class, it’s crucial that we have a clear plan for the future that secures research funding, ensures freedom for scientists to work across borders, and provides regulatory alignment, argues the ICR’s Chief Executive Professor Paul Workman.

Our manifesto for cancer drug discovery and development – focusing on innovation to tackle treatment resistance and meeting patients’ needs

Professor Paul Workman argues that concerted action is needed to accelerate patients’ access to today’s new treatments – and incentivise creation of the innovative new medicines of tomorrow that will lead to step changes in clinical outcome.

Winning the War on Cancer: why words matter

Professor Paul Workman cautions that aggressive military language can be unhelpful in describing some patients’ experience of living with cancer – and oversimplifies the overall challenge of cancer research

Helping give hope to patients with rare chordoma cancers

An ICR team contributed to a major collaborative study discovering a new treatment approach for chordoma – the disease from which my own mother died.

Why regulators must move with the science if we’re to get innovative new treatments to patients more quickly

Our CEO, Professor Paul Workman, discusses the findings of the ICR's new drug access report, which asks how we can best harness advances in science to bring innovative drugs to patients.

More on chemical probes – from Indiana Jones to open science

Professor Paul Workman reflects on what a swashbuckling archaeologist can teach us about the importance of choosing a chemical probe wisely – and how new initiatives to guide the selection can make cancer research more robust.

Probe Miner: a new resource for objective, large-scale assessment of chemical tools

ICR Chief Executive Professor Paul Workman talks about the launch of Probe Miner – the new web resource for objective, large-scale analysis of chemical probes.

Call to bioscientists: choose and use your chemicaI probes very carefully

ICR Chief Executive Paul Workman blogs about a new article we have published in Cancer Cell that seeks to draw to the attention of the bioscience community the serious dangers of using flawed chemical probes – or tool compounds – in mechanistic investigations and target validation for translational research.

Tribute to Patrick (Paddy) Johnston – a true leader and champion of cancer research and cancer patients

Our Chief Executive pays tribute to Professor Patrick Johnston, Vice Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast and formerly Director of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, who died this month.

A pioneer of cancer drug discovery – Professor Ken Harrap 1931–2017

Our Chief Executive remembers Professor Ken Harrap, a pioneer of cancer research who was instrumental to the discovery of life saving treatments including carboplatin and raltitrexed, who died last week.

NCRI 2016: Five reasons why we must prioritise innovative drug discovery to tackle cancer’s challenges

ICR Chief Executive Professor Paul Workman took part in a debate at the NCRI conference on how to prioritise research spending — on creating new treatments or repurposing old ones. Here he outlines the arguments in favour of innovation.

An ambitious plan for faster access to innovative treatments

Professor Paul Workman comments on the recently published findings of the Accelerated Access Review and the importance of speeding up the adoption of innovative drugs and medical technologies.

Five ways we can harness the power of Big Data to transform cancer research and treatment

Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, sets out what needs to happen for Big Data to deliver on its promise to revolutionise cancer research and care.

An exciting step for childhood cancer research and targeted treatment

Professor Paul Workman blogs about a new test for childhood cancer which hit the headlines yesterday — a multi-gene panel that should speed progress to targeted therapy.

Abiraterone’s approval is great news for men with prostate cancer – but why did it take so long?

Professor Paul Workman comments on the recent decision by NICE to approve abiraterone for men with advanced prostate cancer and offers thoughts on the drug approval process.

My reflections on The Death of Cancer

Professor Paul Workman introduces his special three-part essay, inspired by the memoir The Death of Cancer, and reflecting on five decades of progress in cancer research and treatment.

More, better new drugs: five ways the system must change

Professor Paul Workman outlines five solutions to the challenge of the broken drug system of drug discovery and development, which is failing to deliver enough innovative new cancer drugs to those who need them.