Guest Update by Drs. James H. Doroshow, Joseph E. Tomaszewski,
and Jerry M. Collins
DTP Celebrates 50 Years of Advancing Cancer Research
This month, NCI celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Developmental Therapeutics Program (DTP), which has played a key role in supplying the nation's trove of treatments against cancer. Since its inception in 1955 as the Cancer Chemotherapy National Service Center, DTP has contributed to the development of 38 anticancer drugs, including paclitaxel, bortezomib, and cetuximab. Now, as part of the Division of Cancer Treatment & Diagnosis (DCTD), DTP continues its role in planning, conducting, and facilitating the discovery and development of new therapeutic agents for cancer.
That concisely stated role encompasses a wide range of collaborative activities. DTP, through its own researchers and those supported by the program's grants and contracts, searches for unique anticancer agents in synthetic molecules, biologicals, and natural products. DTP staff and contractors perform the screening and related bio-logical, toxicological, and pharmacological evaluations necessary to ensure these compounds can be introduced safely to cancer patients.
DTP's extensive resources and services are available to all members of the cancer research community - academia, nonprofit organizations, and industry. DTP staff foster collaborations among scientists from the different environments, encourage use of new technology, and translate scientific findings into new cancer treatments. DTP allows researchers access to its repositories of tested synthetic and natural products, radiolabeled materials, and biological reference standards and reagents. The program also provides inbred and hybrid rats, mice, and guinea pigs to NIH-funded researchers, and offers screening services, including the testing of anticancer compounds in vitro in the NCI60 and in vivo.
DTP maintains a stable repository of transplantable in vivo-derived tumors and in vitro-established tumor cell lines from several species. Many of these samples are not available anywhere else in the world and can be provided to qualified researchers.
DTP works in close collaboration with other NCI components, especially the Center for Cancer Research and the DCTD Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program. As molecules move through the internal NCI drug development pipeline, the goal is to have a smooth transition from preclinical studies in DTP to clinical investigations of efficacy, safety, and biomarkers, including noninvasive imaging. By working with the DCTD Cancer Imaging Program, DTP is helping to broaden the use of imaging in cancer treatment, especially with new molecularly targeted agents.
One recent DTP innovation, the Rapid Access to Intervention Development (RAID) program, is assisting extramural investigators in translating novel anticancer agents from academic laboratories to the clinic. The success of this program has led to the establishment of a number of similar programs, including the NIH-wide RAID pilot program, so that the treatments for other diseases can move more easily from the bench to bedside.
On November 29, DTP will hold its 50th Anniversary Symposium, "A History of Success in Anticancer Drug Development," on the NIH campus to celebrate its many successes and to examine its future role in anticancer drug development. Please see http://dtp.nci.nih.gov for more information.
By Drs. James H. Doroshow, director, DCTD;