Accepted Paper:

Kinase inhibitors; the role of believers and non-believers in drug research  


Farah Huzair (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

Work to develop tyrosine kinase inhibitors began in the 1980’s. Early development was marked by a lack of promise, followed by the development of a band wagon. This historical study describes how drug development took place and the role of the public and private sectors.

Paper long abstract:

Work to develop tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI's), small molecule cancer drugs, began in the 1980's. Recognition that TKIs are viable as a treatment and as a marketable product finally came with the approval of imatinib in 1998, a first-in-class drug. Before this time however, attempts were greeted by much of the scientific community with skepticism. There was a widely held belief that the proposed mechanism of action for TKIs was not possible. After proof of concept was shown by imatinib, and alongside the development of genetic sequencing which demonstrated the targets available for TKI's, a bandwagon developed. Early development in the field was marked by a distinct lack of promise, relating to both the product and the market. This paper describes where and how drug development took place in terms of the role of the public and private, and the different innovation systems in the UK and US. The moments at which hypotheses gained credibility are examined. At these points disbelief turned into promise and expectation, as momentum gathered in the scientific community and the pharmaceutical industry. The promises made in the late 90's are only now coming to fruition with 28 TKI's now approved for treatment. This is a historical study of TKIs which draws upon data from semi structured interviews and secondary sources.

Panel T094
Emerging science and technology : questioning the regime of promising