The final session of the meeting was an open and frank discussion of ways in which it might be possible to use the targets that had been discussed at the meeting for new anticancer drug development and of what the potential problems of this approach were. A consensus was reached that, while most work to date had focused on mechanisms of growth control in normal cells, future efforts should be made simultaneously on two fronts. First, and perhaps self-evidently, we need to increase the sophistication of our understanding of the differences in membrane biology and signalling mechanisms that exist between normal and tumor cells. The second stage is expected to follow naturally from the first, namely the development of agents that could successfully exploit these differences for the purposes of chemotherapy. Many of the drugs discussed at the meeting were discovered by random screening or by molecular modification of existing agents, and this work predated attempts to use membrane and signalling targets for cancer drug development. The actions of such drugs on the cell membrane had been discovered serendipitously and only following some understanding of the basic biology of membrane signal translation. The next period of drug development will focus on agents specifically directed to cell membrane and signalling targets. This promises to be an exciting phase of cancer chemotherapy, with some attention focused away from the traditional sites for anticancer drug action. Naturally, this effort will require the concerted interdisciplinary collaboration of basic molecular biologists and cell physiologists with innovative chemists, cancer pharmacologists, experimental chemotherapists, and clinicians. This first international meeting showed how specialists in these different areas can be brought together successfully to assess progress, define problems, and indicate avenues in which real advances are to be made. The ultimate success of this approach will be judged by future advances made in new drug development, but most of the meeting participants left with a sense of high anticipation and returned to their laboratories with new ideas. In anticipation of these advances, a second international meeting is planned in 3 years time.


This meeting was sponsored jointly by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the British Association for Cancer Research (BACR), and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) (Pharmacokinetics and Metabolism Group) and took place at Queens's College, University of Cambridge, UK, September 14–16, 1989. The organizing committee was: for the AACR—Garth Powis, Mayo Clinic & Foundation (Rochester, MN); Thomas R. Tritton, University of Vermont (Burlington, VT); Edward J. Modest, Boston University (Boston, MA); and Garth L. Nicolson, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, TX); for BACR—John A. Hickman, Aston University (Birmingham, UK); Timothy J. Rink, Smith Kline and French Research Ltd. (Welwyn, Hertfordshire, UK); and Anne R. Simmonds, Kirby-Warrick Pharmaceuticals (Bury St. Edmonds, Suffolk, UK); and for EORTC—Paul Workman, Medical Research Council Clinical Oncology and Radiotherapeutics Unit (Cambridge, UK); Jean-Pierre Abita, St. Louis Hospital, (Paris, France); and Wolfgang E. Berdel, Technical University of Munich (Munich, FRG).

Reprint requests should be addressed to: Dr. Garth Powis, Department of Pharmacology, Mayo Clinic and Foundation, 200 First Street, S.W., Rochester, MN 55905.

This content is only available via PDF.