We wondered whether this was something to do with the mechanism of action, i.e. the inhibition of cell division, or whether it was pure chance. After a further year’s work, we were coming close to our goal. We developed another series of over 50 new compounds, all of which we synthesized in the laboratory. I was convinced that the right molecule must be among them. We did indeed find a small group of well-tolerated molecules which at the same time had the desired effect against cancer cells. From this group, we finally identified the molecule that subsequently went into clinical development as an active substance candidate and has now been approved as a cancer therapy for certain tumors.
Together with the biological project leader Barbara Hibner, I led the project team of about 25 people from all over the world. Research work of this kind is only possible in a team – it is completely impossible alone. We worked together, sometimes in unorthodox ways, but we were always highly effective and ultimately very successful.
In 2004, together with my colleagues Timothy Lowinger, Scott Wilhelm and Edward Huguenel, I was awarded the Otto Bayer Medal for this team achievement – the highest accolade for scientific work at Bayer.
Back in Germany, I found a new area of work in Medical Chemistry at the Bayer HealthCare research center in Wuppertal. Of course, I follow the development of the active substance with great interest: it’s like having a child – you want to be there and are pleased and proud when it does well.