The University of Toronto Mississauga is establishing an interdisciplinary centre for the development of new drugs targeting cancer and other diseases, thanks to a $7-million donation from Mississauga-based Orlando Corporation.
The focus of the new Centre for Medicinal Chemistry will be to create compounds that are purpose-built to interrupt specific biochemical processes in the body while avoiding harm to normal cellular functions. Researchers at the centre will include UTM’s Patrick Gunning and four new principal investigators who will partner in medicinal chemistry, computational chemistry, cancer biology and stem cell biology.
In the past five years, Gunning and his team have advanced four potential new drugs into the final stage of testing and analysis before clinical trials. The great promise of the centre lies in bringing together scientists from complementary areas of chemical and biological research under one roof – to reduce the time and cost of developing these compounds. The hoped-for result will be a much larger pipeline of molecules to fight many forms of cancer and other diseases. Gunning lost a grandmother to cancer; he knows that patients and their families need better treatments as soon as possible.
Gunning’s lab employs more than 30 people. With the launch of the centre he plans to add several positions. Each of the other principal investigators will also have their own labs, creating a truly interdisciplinary effort with about 100 people. “Through this gift, says Gunning, “we have a unique opportunity to develop life-saving drugs.