After the long process of identifying proteins and protein interactions that are crucial to allowing a cancerous disease to continue, it is time to develop a drug to disrupt it. While the process of drug development is time consuming and expensive, it is necessary to ensure that the medicine developed is safe, and effective.
Once the interaction between proteins has been understood, enterprising chemists will design or include in testing several thousand chemical compounds that could potentially interfere with the interaction. These compounds are then tested in a process very similar to the gene assay to determine which drugs have the desired effects. Of the hundreds or potentially thousands of chemicals that will be tested, perhaps only one or two hundred will have the desired effect.
From the few hundred chemicals selected that had some drug-like effects, the most promising targets need to be selected. To determine which drugs are the most effective. A small handful of the drugs will meet the criteria and be promoted to the next stage of testing.
With a small handful of potential drugs the next stage of testing is to treat the disease in vivo, in living animals who are very similar to human beings. This is intended to catch any potential differences in living creatures and the cell lines that could reduce the effects of the drug or cause lethal side effects. Assuming one or two drugs make it through this stage of testing, they start clinical trials.
Clinical trials in humans are a long and potentially hazardous stage in the development of drugs. The reaction a patient has to a drug might be very different than animal or cell testing. Clinical trials generally start with very small doses of the chemical and very small patient samples and slowly increase the number of people being tested as the interaction of the drug with the body is well understood. Assuming the drug works as it is intended and its interaction with food, drink, alcohol, and the many possible conditions of the human body are understood, the drug will enter production as a new approved treatment for cancer. However, because cancer is a long-term disease, the period of testing takes many years to determine if it is actually having an effect, and drug development in this field is necessarily slow.
Current Ongoing Research is at a stage prior to the development of potential drugs. Researchers are striving to understand the interaction of proteins in order to provide Protein Targets for potential drugs.
If you have learned all you want to know about the research being conducted in the lab and are interested in understanding the scientific process that are being researched, there is more information in the Background Information.