CANCER DRUG DEVELOPMENT: In collaboration with Dr. Zuzana Zachar (below), Paul developed a new class of drugs that target the profoundly altered metabolism of tumor cells. These drugs were patented by Stony Brook University and are currently under clinical development by Cornerstone Pharmaceuticals, a company orignally founded in the LIHTI incubator as Stony Brook. The current lead version of these drugs (CPI-613) is in advanced investigatory clinical trials (Phase II). This drug family has many novel properties, including both substantial potential efficacy (in preclinical studies) and remarkably low toxicity (in both preclinical and clinical settings). Thus, CPI-613 can be used alone or in combination with existing treatments, apparently at will.
To date, promising indications of strong clinical responses to CPI-613 combinations have emerged in two difficult-to-treat cancers. 50% response rates have been observed in high cytogenetic risk AML leukema patients with CPI-613 coupled with a standard salvage regemen, an approximately three-fold improvement in outcome. This study was conducted by Dr. Tim Pardee at the Wake Forest University Cancer Center. In pancreatic cancer cancer patients, 25% complete remission and 25% partial remission rates have been observed by combining CPI-613 with the standard FOLFIRINOX treatment regimin. This is in contrast to complete remission rates of less than 0.5% with FOLFIRINOX alone. This study was carried out by Dr. Angela Alistar at the Wafe Forest University Cancer Center.
We are very excited by these results. Cornerstone is currently working toward registrational clinical trials that we hope may lead to FDA approval of CPI-613 for clinical use, potentially helping large numbers of under-served patients. Paul and Zuzana and the members of their group continue to expand our understanding of the detailed mechanism of action of this first-in-class drug family.
HUMAN EVOLUTION AND TEACHING PROJECTS: In collaboration with Dr. Joanne Souza (below) Paul continues research into the evolution of human behavior, with all its implications for the human future. In addition to ongoing science (a new book is in development), Paul and Joanne are working on teaching projects. One of these is designed to bring cutting edge work on human evolution to a global student audience through online course development. Paul and Joanne also continue to deliver public lectures on theories of human evolution.
Moreover, Paul was part of a panel presentation/discussion of theories of human uniqueness hosted by the pretigious World Science Festival entitled “Planet of the Humans” together with fellow participants on May 29, 2015. (See video at http://www.worldsciencefestival.com/2015/09/infographic-look-human-uniqueness/ ; Paul’s primary segment from 29:50 to 46:45.)
Finally, Joanne is the Director of Biology Online and is continuing her extensive work in developing online curricula in biology. Paul acts as a consultant to Joanne’s work in this area.