Breast cancer research funded by Army

By Ana A. Lima
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 1, 1996

Katherine K. Gardiner
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Dr. Sydney Salmon (foreground), director of the Arizona Cancer Center, and Dr. Kit Lam, associate professor of medicine, are working on compounds to develop a breast cancer treatment.


A $700,000 U.S. Army grant is helping fund a breast cancer drug project at the Arizona Cancer Center.

Researchers involved in this four-year project hope to discover one or two compounds that could eventually be developed into a drug to treat breast cancer, said Dr. Sydney Salmon, director of the Arizona Cancer Center.

The Army grant forms part of $700 million that was assigned to the Army for lobbying purposes for breast cancer research.

The grant will allow researchers to use a new research method called OBOC, or "one bead, one compound." The OBOC technique of synthesizing compounds was developed in 1990 by Salmon and Dr. Kit Lam, associate professor of medicine.

OBOC is an innovation in the drug-researching industry. It reduces research costs and allows scientists to study thousands of compounds in a short time.

The National Cancer Institute, which has an annual budget of $30 million, is unable to study more than 10,000 compounds.

"The NCI has been using a more traditional method," Lam said.

The OBOC technique, however, enables a single technician to study tens of thousands of compounds each week, Salmon said.

"This technique allows us to synthesize libraries of chemical compounds, each of which contains 10,000 to 100,000 different compounds that can then be subjected to very rapid screening assays," Salmon said.

The University of Arizona licensed the OBOC technology to Selectide Corp., and this year, a patent was issued on it. Selectide synthesizes and determines the structure of the active compounds in the breast cells. The Arizona Cancer Center team is then responsible for the screening phase of the project, Salmon said.

Salmon said he is hopeful the project will discover a drug that will be marketed and used by women who suffer from breast cancer.

Once a drug is found, it must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Salmon said the entire process, from discovery to FDA approval for marketing, usually takes at least seven years and costs $100 million or more.