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Despite significant strides over the past 40 years, cancer continues to be a lethal disease of such scope that it touches the lives of nearly everyone. However, revolutions in the “omics” (e.g. genomics, proteomics) along with advances in molecular biology offer great reason for hope, providing unprecedented opportunities to understand the biological underpinnings of cancer and to develop entirely new kinds of diagnostics, therapies, and preventive measures. For instance, we now understand the decisive role cancerous stem cells play in the formation and proliferation of malignant tumours.

Professor Patrick Gunning’s work builds on these breakthroughs with an extremely effective process for developing lead compounds that have the potential to be turned into cancer-fighting drugs. The Gunning lab designs and creates compounds purpose-built to interrupt specific biochemical processes while avoiding harm to normal cellular functions. This method is a dramatic departure from previous approaches that involved screening vast numbers of compounds in hopes of chancing upon those that elicit a desired biological interaction—with vanishingly small odds of success.

In just the past five years, the Gunning team has moved four lead compounds to advanced pre-clinical trials. The great promise of this research, then, is to dramatically reduce the time and cost of developing lead compounds, almost certainly resulting in a much larger pipeline of compounds to fight many forms of cancer as well as other diseases.

With its impressive track record serving as proof of concept, the Gunning lab – with Patrick Gunning at its core – has created the Centre for Medicinal Chemistry. The Centre integrates a national network of leading health care institutions and researchers. It is unique in Canada with its focus on developing cancer therapeutics from initial computational design right through to definitive animal trials.

Read the news release announcing the Centre for Medicinal Chemistry.

Visit the Boundless Campaign website dedicated to Patrick Gunning and his research, or visit the Gunning Group.