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Science highlights

100 scientific publications, a milestone

100 scientific publications, a milestone

Cancer research is the main activity of the Anticancer Fund and we have been publishing our work in scientific articles since we were founded. Recently our publications database, which is accessible on our website, hit 100 articles, then very soon afterwards made it to 101.  

On a personal note, I was particularly pleased that article 100 was one in which I was a co-author, along with colleagues working at Leeds University. Our paper looks at Ewing sarcoma – a disease that is desperately in need of new treatments – and looks for repurposing candidates, or ‘old’ drugs that can be used in new indications, able to target the cells which are associated with resistance to standard treatments.

High-impact journals publish our work

Looking at the publications database as a whole, the thing that strikes me the most is just the range of work that the Anticancer Fund is involved in. The list of 101 articles includes 71 publications in peer-reviewed journals in which one of the authors works at the Anticancer Fund. There are also 13 conference papers.

Our first publication was on the 9th of August 2013, which means that we have produced a publication every 41 days since then – which is quite something for a small team. The high number of publications acknowledges our scientific expertise, and we are proud to share all of it on our website.  

We have published on diverse topics: clinical trials, repurposing candidates, patient advocacy, health policy, bibliometrics, bioinformatics and more. There’s quite a range of authors at the Anticancer Fund, it’s a team effort for sure, and an even bigger range of co-authors – both in geographic spread and in who they are: clinicians, clinical trials experts, health policy experts, lab researchers, epidemiologists and others.

Publications can be extremely influential

Are publications important? In the world of science and medicine there is no doubt that peer reviewed journals can be extremely influential. We can see this both in terms of the number of times our articles are referenced, and also by who is doing the referencing. There is little doubt that the Anticancer Fund has been prominent when it comes to drug repurposing – and long may this continue!

Finally, it’s also good to see that there are 15 publications where our support – both moral and financial – is acknowledged. It’s a reminder that we contribute to scientific progress also by supporting the work of other scientists and clinicians.

Our other databases deserve your attention as well

In the last batch of updates to our online databases, it’s not just the publications database that jumped out. Also notable was the data in the latest update to our repurposing clinical trials database (ReDO_Trials). This is a database of active clinical trials investigating the use of non-cancer drugs as new cancer treatments. In this latest update the number of active trials has gone from 895 in November 2022 to 898 in February 2023. That doesn’t sound like much of an increase at all. But this incremental change hides the fact that during that time 119 trials ended, so the number of new trials was slightly higher than the number finishing – leading to that deceptively small increase.  

Where are these trials coming from? The data clearly shows that only around 6% of repurposing trials are commercially sponsored – the bulk are still funded by public sources. The data also show that of the repurposing drugs included in the trials (173), over 90% are off-patent. This raises difficult questions about clinical implementation – how do we get these treatments to patients when there are no commercial investors pushing to get drugs approved by regulators and then to patients? Not surprisingly this is turning into a major topic for our policy work here at the Anticancer Fund – so watch this space!

More information on our publications and on our databases 

Pan Pantziarka

Pan Pantziarka is Programme Director Drug Repurposing of the Anticancer Fund. He is the co-ordinator of the Repurposing Drugs in Oncology project that the ACF has founded in partnership with the US not-for-profit organisation GlobalCures. By training Pan is a data scientist but he has switched fields to oncology. He has previously published in the area of cancer pre-disposition syndromes and is also chairman of the George Pantziarka TP53 Trust.