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GEN’s editor in chief, John Sterling, interviews life science academic and biotech industry leaders on important research, technology, and trends. These podcasts will keep you informed with all the important details you need.

Researchers at the University of Washington have updated a traditional Chinese medicine to create a compound that reportedly is more specific in killing certain kinds of cancer cells than currently available drugs, heralding the possibility of a more effective chemotherapy drug with minimal side effects. They published their results online October 5 in Cancer Letters.


The new compound puts a novel twist on the common anti-malarial drug artemisinin, which is derived from the sweet wormwood plant, which has been used in herbal Chinese medicine for at least 2,000 years, and is eaten in salads in some Asian countries.


During this week's podcast, Dr. Tomikazu Sasaki, senior author of the study. explains what his team did to the plant to create a powerful cancer cell-killing compound. He provides details on modified artemisinin's cancer destroying abilities and discusses the benefits and potential side effects of using this therapeutic approach.
Tomikazu Sasaki Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Washington in Seattle. Dr Sasaki has worked to develop a number of artemisinin-tagged compounds and technologies for the prevention and treatment of cancer, infectious diseases, and disorders characterized by abnormal cellular hyperproliferation. His other research activities are focused on novel peptide mimetics and multivalent carbohydrate ligands to investigate biomolecular recognition processes. The Sasaki Group has developed a series of metal-binding peptides, which show metal-ion dependent folding to adopt biologically active conformation. This concept was successfully applied to generate potent calcitonin analogs. Dr Sasaki has also developed a conceptually new approach to rapidly prepare multivalent carbohydrate ligands by the metal-assisted self-assembly process to investigate carbohydrate-protein and carbohydrate-carbohydrate interactions. He is the recipient of two National Scholarship Foundation awards in Japan, and an honorary member of the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society. Dr Sasaki received a PhD in Bioorganic, Organic, and Biostructural Chemistry from Kyoto University in Japan.

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