Cancer's Next Magic Bullet May Be Magic Shotgun

Network Approach to Drug Design May Yield More Effective and Less Toxic Cancer Drugs, UCSF Study Suggests

By Jason Bardi | June 14, 2012

Cancer's Next Magic Bullet May Be Magic Shotgun

Kevan Shokat, PhD

Rather than seeking to find magic bullets — chemicals that specifically attack one gene or protein involved in one particular part of a disease process — the new approach looks to find “magic shotguns” by sifting through the known universe of chemicals to find the few special molecules that broadly disrupt the whole diseases process. 

“We’ve always been looking for magic bullets,” said Kevan Shokat, PhD, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and chair of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at UCSF. “This is a magic shotgun — it doesn’t inhibit one target but a set of targets — and that gives us a much, much better ability to stop the cancer without causing as many side effects.”

Described in the June 7, 2012 issue of the journal Nature, the magic shotgun approach has already yielded two potential drugs, called AD80 and AD81, which in fruit flies were more effective and less toxic than the drug vandetanib, which was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration last year for the treatment of a certain type of thyroid cancer. 

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