Dr Nicholas Lydon FRS

Founder and Director of AnaptysBio, San Diego and BluePrint Medicines, Cambridge, USA

Nick Lydon played a decisive role in the development of Gleevec (Imatinib), a drug that has saved the lives of thousands of patients with chronic myelogenous leukaemia (CML) and gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST). Gleevec revolutionized the field of cancer drug discovery by changing rapidly fatal diseases into easily treatable conditions, and showed that, by targeting an oncogene that is the molecular cause of a specific cancer, the defective cancer cells can be killed without any major side effects on normal cells. The remarkable efficacy of Gleevec profoundly changed the perception of protein kinases as therapeutic targets. From being considered to be virtually “undruggable” in 1994, they have become the pharmaceutical industry's most popular class of drug target today, accounting for over 50% of cancer drug discovery R&D. The international prizes that Nick Lydon has received include, most recently, the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award from The Lasker Foundation.

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