Looking for compounds to kill tumors, Michael Boyd abandons leukemic mice and tries a radically new, unprecedentedly large assay
In a sharp break from its past, the National Cancer Institute has abandoned a 30-year-old system for finding compounds that kill tumors and has replaced it with an elaborate but unproven factory-style operation.

In the new program, unique in its scope, 20,000 compounds and extracts will be tested against a broad array of human tumor cells each year. The compounds will be submitted by chemical and pharmaceutical companies, while the extracts will be drawn from tropical plants and marine organisms obtained from outside researchers.

"What we've created here is a novel and unprecedented resource," says Michael Boyd, who as director of the institute's Developmental Therapeutics Program has assembled the program despite stiff scientific, technical, and institutional resistance.

The move is being watched with some skepticism by other cancer researchers. There's wide...

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