Research Matters

Research Matters

Drug Innovation

Research turns raw chemicals into life-saving drugs ready for industrial manufacturing. From the University of Kansas, this is Research Matters. I'm Brendan Lynch.

Aired September 7, 2008

2 minutes (2.7 MB) | Download mp3


Few drug researchers have been as prolific as Valentino Stella, distinguished professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at KU. Stella leads the drug discovery and experimental therapeutics program at the KU cancer center.

Stella: Pharmaceutical chemistry is involved with the delivery aspects. How do you covert this raw chemical into something that cam be injected into the patient, swallowed orally and be well absorbed, and really effectively taking it from the concept of raw chemical into a molecule that will end up in the tablet or capsule, suppository, ointment or injectable that is usable for patients?

While Stella has formulated useful drugs to treat epilepsy and aids, he's best known for inventing cancer drugs. Indeed, for more than two decades, Stella has managed KU's formulation contract with the National Cancer Institute.

Stella: We're very proud of the fact that a lot of the drugs that ended up in the clinic, we've had a hand in formulating. In the last 50 years, there have been 19 drugs that have come out of the NCI exploratory discovery process. Of those 19 drugs that have either gone onto the market and are sold and are being used, or have gone into clinical trial, we've been associated with formulating about seven. And depending on how you count, we've had a contribution on the eighth one.

Moreover, Stella has been pivotal in the startup of three companies: Cydex, Proquest and Crititech. indeed, such transfers of technology are a hallmark of Stella's career.

Stella: It's a great engine, right? It's not only an engine for the university, but it's an engine for Lawrence, Kansas, and Kansas City. If we come up with inventions, and spin off companies that generate royalties -- that generates jobs. It feeds into society and trickles down effect into the local economy. It generates income when a product goes onto the market, and that feeds back into the engine."

For more about Val Stella and the forumation of new drugs, log onto research matters dot ku dot edu. For the University of Kansas, I'm Brendan Lynch.

Tell Me More

Drug Innovation

Valentino Stella, distinguished professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, holds an amazing 32 patents for drugs that treat cancer, AIDS, epilepsy and other diseases. As the renowned leader of the Drug Discovery and Experimental Therapeutics Program at the KU Cancer Center, today Stella is helping to make KU a world leader in the development of drugs to combat cancer.

Read the full news release