Anti-cancer medicinal chemistry

The term "cancer" refers to a group of diseases that involve abnormal cell growth with the potential to spread to other parts of the body. As each cancer consists of a variety of different cell types highly effective at developing resistance to both drug and radiation therapy, it is a particularly difficult disease to treat. The challenge for the field of medicinal chemistry is to design drugs capable of selectively targeting cancer cells while avoiding multidrug resistance pathways.

Using recent insights into the unique attributes of cancer cells, Medicinal Chemistry is pursuing anti-tumour agents of high specificity to help design suitably targeted, selective chemotherapeutics. Current programs involve a diverse array of anti-cancer targets, such as lipid and protein kinases, microtubules, topoisomerases, hypoxia inducible factors, bromodomains and histone acetyltransferases.

Drug discovery approaches include:

  • optimisation of screening hits using structure-activity relationship-guided and in silico techniques
  • synthesis and optimisation of anticancer natural products
  • bioconjugation of active agents to cancer seeking biomolecules

These approaches are complemented by research into new synthetic methods for expediting lead optimisation, drug-biomolecule conjugation and asymmetric natural product synthesis. These programs are undertaken in collaboration with other researchers at MIPS and other cancer research institutes in Australia and abroad.

Medicinal Chemistry's anti-cancer drug research is supported by the Australian Research Council, the National Health and Medical Research Council and the National Breast Cancer Foundation. This work is strengthened by MIPS's designation as a medicinal chemistry host node for the Cancer Therapeutics CRC.


Principal investigators