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Objectives

It is important for oncology pharmacists to appreciate the background to cytotoxic drug discovery and development so that they can:

  • Better understand how some of the current ‘gold standard’ drugs and combinations have been arrived at and how they will go on to be developed in the light of new drug discoveries
  • Better understand the rationale to combination chemotherapy
  • Better understand why certain drugs may be a more sensible choice for an individual patient at that point in their disease, although later with the emergence of chemotherapy resistance alternative drugs may be a better choice
  • Understand how subtle differences may/do produce different responses and/or toxicities


By the end of this module, students should:

  • Have an overview of the development of cytotoxic agents from their introduction to clinical practice in the 1950s to the current day
  • Have a sense of how their mechanism of action or abundance in nature, has lead to their development and use in clinical practice
  • Appreciate how, over the last few years, an understanding of the cancer cell and its development and operation has lead to rational design rather than blanked drug screening and serendipitous drug discovery
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