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By Newton D. E.

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After more than a decade of research, however, the task was accomplished: Researchers achieved a successful method for the synthesis of the compound in the laboratory. In 1992, the FDA approved paciltaxel for use against cancers that had failed to respond to other treatments. By this time, the compound was 36 CHEMISTRY OF DRUGS being made and marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company under the trade name of Taxol®. Over the next decade, the FDA continued to expand the diseases for which Taxol® could be used, including breast, ovarian, and lung cancer and Kaposi’s sarcoma related to HIV infection.

Finally, in 1925, the English chemist Sir Robert Robinson determined the structural formula for morphine (with the exception of one uncertain atom). Another historically significant example is the story of quinine. For centuries, quinine was the most effective drug for the treatment of malaria, which has long been one of the world’s most serious and widespread infectious diseases. The substance was first used as an antimalarial treatment in the 1600s, although how it was discovered it still not known with certainty.

Michael Ruff, her collaborator, developed the first of a new class of treatments for HIV/AIDS, the viral entry inhibitor Peptide T. , a post she still holds. In 1999, she wrote a popular book about her research, Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine. Drug researchers in the 21st century still face a daunting array of tasks. The nature of these tasks and some of the progress that has been made in meeting those challenges are the topics of the remaining chapters of this book.

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