An anti-cancer drug discovered at a Birmingham university has reached sales of $1billion a year.
Temozolomide, a chemotherapy drug used with radiotherapy on patients with the most common form of brain tumour, was discovered 30 years ago in Aston University’s School of Pharmacy. The project, led by Professor Malcolm Stevens, resulted in a significant increase in survival rates with minimal side effects.
Professor Stevens said: “At Aston in the 70s an innovative team of cancer researchers and drug discovery and development scientists assembled in the pharmacy department. One of the products of the group was Temozolomide, now the agent of choice in the treatment of brain tumours, which has made a major impact in cancer treatment. And the Temozolomide story is not over as it has become a favoured partner in new drug combinations and may eventually be used in other therapeutic areas.”
The genesis of Temozolomide lay in an instruction from his supervisors to Aston PhD student Robert Stone to ‘make some interesting molecules’.
Dr Stone, now in Australia, said: “The discovery seems so long ago but it is gratifying to know it helps more and more people each year.”
Royalties from Temozolomide, also known as Temodar and Temodal, fund research.
Dr Keith Blundy, chief executive of Cancer Research Technology, said: “We’re delighted Temozolomide has achieved sales of over $1billion.”