Face to Face with the New Optimists: Peter Sadler
Another scientist featuring in our first Kindle book The New Optimists: Challenging Cancer is Professor Peter Sadler FRS, an inorganic chemist. In this video clip, he talks about what makes him optimistic.
Like many scientists, he’s far more excited by what he doesn’t know than what he does. Chemists know very little about how the eighty or so elements of the Periodic Table play a part in living organisms — yet a greater understanding, Peter argues, will lead to radically more effective drug treatments.
For example, every Agatha Christie fan knows that arsenic is poisonous. But lobsters (lobsters!) make some arsenic compounds that are relatively non-toxic. And it’s this understanding that led inorganic chemists such as Peter to explore how arsenic could be used to kill cancer cells but not the patient; arsenic trioxide is now approved as a front-line treatment for certain types of leukaemia.
His own work has very recently led to a new understanding about how platinum, already the basis of the world’s best-selling cancer drug, can be used without some of the damaging side-effects that such therapies can cause. He and his team have discovered a way of activating a highly toxic platinum compound to work only on cancer cells and not on the rest of the patient. This research is still in its very early, pre-clinical stages, but already promises a lot.
See also this Birmingham Post Science Blogpost Light, platinum, cancer and the wide-ranging mind of a scientist about it.