August 2014 – Like many new relationships, this one developed over a cup of coffee. Except this one might lead to a new drug to inhibit the spread of cancer cells.
Joseph M. Salvino, a medicinal chemist, and Alessandro Fatatis, a cancer biologist, crossed paths in spring 2010 at a departmental meeting at the Drexel University College of Medicine.
Fatatis presented his recent discovery that breast and prostate cancer cells possess a receptor that allows them to infiltrate the bone, often the first site of metastasis for these cancers.
When the coffee came out, Salvino approached Fatatis, and the researchers discussed how the discovery could be turned into a treatment. Fatatis, who presented his research with a thick Italian accent, challenged the goatee-sporting Salvino to create a small molecule to block the crucial receptor. Two weeks later, the chemist showed up at Fatatis’ office with a vial of powder.