Edinburgh Research Explorer

Prof Neil Carragher

Personal Chair of Drug Discovery

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Biography

  • 1987-1992 B.Sc.(Hons). Cell & Immunobiology, University of Aberdeen, Scotland UK
  • 1993-1996 PhD. Yamanouchi Pharmaceuticals Co. Ltd, Yamanouchi Research Institute, Oxford, England
  • 1996-1999 Research Fellow. Russell Ross laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
  • 1999-2004 Senior Research Fellow. Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, Scotland, UK
  • 2004-2010 Principal Scientist. Advanced Science and Technology Laboratory. AstraZeneca, England, UK
  • 2010-Current Principal Investigator-Drug Discovery Group, Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Key Interests

Drug-Discovery; Pharmaco-proteomics; High-content screening, tumour invasion & metastasis; 3D/organotypic assays; Protease-kinase pathway crosstalk; Drug combinations.

In 2010 Neil left AstraZeneca to join the Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre as Principal Investigator of the Drug Discovery group. Here Neil intends to leverage his previous industrial and academic experiences to develop new innovative approaches to the discovery and development of effective medicines that significantly impact upon cancer patient lives

Research Interests

It has become apparent that both large pharmaceutical companies and smaller biotechnology or academic enterprises have become very effective at generating new chemical entities or biological molecules that are highly potent and specific to single targets, providing a plethora of new therapeutic molecules that can be explored across cancers. However, data accumulated from the top eleven pharmaceutical companies place overall oncology clinical success rates from first-time-in-man studies to new drug registration at 5% [Kola and Landis, Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. 2004 3(8)]. Even higher rates of drug discovery project attrition take place during the latter stages of preclinical development as a result of poor efficacy and toxicity issues. Therefore, current drug discovery strategies appear sub-optimal for tackling complex multigenic or heterogenous diseases such as cancer.

Our approach: A major risk for all anti cancer therapies is inherent or adaptive resistance. No single molecular event drives continued proliferation and tumor progression, and redundancy in signalling pathways or target mechanism limits the efficacy of mono-therapies. Addressing such challenges requires a new approach to maximizing and predicting clinical efficacy of novel therapies through understanding their influence upon cancer cell signalling networks, particularly the ‘driver’ pathways, and identifying how best to collapse the robustness of such networks. The challenge is to predict which target classes, candidate drugs, or drug combination regimes, provide maximal efficacy or duration of response in defined patient cohorts -this is the goal of the Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre Drug Discovery Group.

In collaboration with local cancer researchers, clinicians, pathologists, computational scientists and industry partners we shall continue to build and apply the Edinburgh Cancer Imaging and Discovery Platform (ECIDP) to multiple projects.

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