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Developer of Meso Drug Honored by National Academy of Sciences

Pat Guth contributes news and insightful content for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

Patricia Guth

January 10, 2013

Washington, D.C. - Each year, the prestigious National Academy of Sciences honors a host of individuals working in the fields of physical, biological, and social sciences for their notable contributions to their particular fields and to science in general. This year, a man who whose work has made a difference in the life of tens of thousands of mesothelioma sufferers will be honored.

A press release by the Academy, announcing the award winners for 2013, profiled the work of Edward C. Taylor, the A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Organic Chemistry Emeritus at Princeton University, who is being honored for his work in heterocyclic chemistry, particular that which led to the development of the new-generation antifolate pemetrexed, sold under the trademark name Alimta™. Currently, Alimta is the only FDA-approved drug recommended specifically for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Taylor’s profile notes that pemetrexed “exhibits unprecedented activity against a variety of solid tumors”. It is now used for the treatment of mesothelioma and non-small cell lung cancer in more than 100 countries. It is also currently being tested in clinical trials for use in treating a number of other kinds of cancers.

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that has always been difficult to treat and little success was offered by chemotherapeutic drugs that preceded Alimta. Though there is still far to go in developing successful treatment methods for mesothelioma, Alimta has showed the most promise and has assisted in adding months – and sometimes years – to the lifespan of mesothelioma patients worldwide.

Taylor’s award, established by E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., recognizes “contributions to chemistry, either in fundamental science or its application, that clearly satisfy a societal need.” The professor will receive a $20,000 prize along with the honor of being named a recipient.

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