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From Basic Research to Cancer Drug: The Story of Cisplatin
By Ricki Lewis
The April 15, 1999 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) brought great satisfaction to Barnett Rosenberg, a retired Michigan State University biophysicist who founded the Barros Research Institute in Holt, Mich., in 1982.1,2,3,4 Not many scientists can watch basic research blossom into a cancer treatment that has extended or saved thousands of lives. Rosenberg's keen observation in 1961 led, 18 years later, to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of cisplatin. The drug's conception, gestation, and birth illustrate the scientific process and also the importance of following even the strangest of hunches.
Cisplatin revolutionized the treatment of testicular cancer, with success also against some ovarian and colon cancers. The trio of reports in the recent NEJM...