For decades, research teams have been looking for ways to treat cancer. A pioneer in this field, Professor Axel Ullrich, developed Sutent, a drug that prolongs the lives of cancer patients by blocking the blood supply to the tumour. This drug originated in the laboratories of the Max Planck Institute and has become a blockbuster for Pfizer Oncology.
‘The breakthrough is that Sutent is a drug for a disease that was not treatable before,’ says Axel Ullrich, Director of the Department of Molecular Biology at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany. ‘The approach is quite new: we have found a way to stop the tumour from growing by inhibiting the supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients that a fast growing tumour strongly depends on.’ The active ingredient in Sutent is sunitinib, which leads to tumour shrinkage and therefore significantly delays tumour growth.
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