American Chemical Society recognises innovation.

American Chemical Society recognises innovation.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) has added 13 chemists from four companies to its list of Heroes of Chemistry. The Heroes programme was started in 1996 with the aim of honouring industrial chemists and chemical engineers whose innovation has led to improvements in health and well-being.

Multidisciplinary teams at 3M, QLT, Schering-Plough and Wyeth were recognised for the development of novel drugs to treat immune disorders, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), high cholesterol, and leukaemia, respectively.

Researchers at Schering-Plough, Kenilworth, US, were honoured for inventing the drug Zetia (ezetimibe), which inhibits cholesterol absorption in the intestine, providing an alternative to the statins, which inhibit cholesterol production in the liver. Schering-Plough joined forces with Merck, which produces the statin Zocor (simvastatin), to develop a drug that incorporates both ezetimibe and simvastatin (see Chemistry World, June 2004, p14). The new drug, Vytorin, received Food and Drug Administration approval in July. The Heroes award will further boost Zetia’s profile, hope its inventors.

At 3M, St Paul, US, chemists were awarded for developing Aldara (imiquimod) for the treatment of genital warts, some skin cancers and precancerous lesions. The drug forms part of a wider effort by the company to develop immune-response modifiers with the potential to treat a range of viruses, skin conditions and tumours.

Chemists at QLT, Vancouver, Canada, were honoured for the development of a bio-pharmaceutical treatment for AMD, the leading cause of blindness in people over 55.

Finally, researchers at Wyeth were chosen for having developed Mylotarg, the first drug approved in a new class of therapies called antibody-targeted chemotherapy for the treatment of acute myelogenous leukaemia. Mylotarg works in synergy with standard chemotherapy, apparently working more effectively than either therapy alone.

’The chemical advances made by our Heroes serve as testimonials to the valuable role chemists, chemical engineers and allied scientists play in improving lives,’ said ACS president Charles Casey before the awards were made at the Society’s 228th National Meeting.

Bea Perks/Philadelphia, US