Graduate Research Professor of Medicinal Chemistry-Duckworth Eminent Scholar
College of Pharmacy
Raymond Bergeron describes his discoveries about how cells read information carried by polyamine analogues as finding a “molecular Rosetta Stone,” comparing them to the key to Egyptian hieroglyphics.
The comparison is apt, since the techniques developed over the course of two decades of research by Bergeron work for a wide variety of drugs on an equally diverse variety of illnesses.
Bergeron’s approach is deceptively simple. Polyamines are present in all human cells, and they are essential to cell growth and proliferation. The polyamine analogues Bergeron has developed gain entry to the cell because of their similarity to natural polyamines.
But once inside the cell, the analogues substitute themselves for the naturally occurring polyamines, but do not perform the functions required for cell growth and proliferation. And, they cause the naturally occurring polyamines to leave the cell.
This has major implications if the cells being targeted are cancerous, because cancer cells have higher concentrations of and rely more on polyamines than normal cells. If their supply of polyamines is shut off, their uncontrolled growth can be stopped.
Bergeron served as the Duckworth Professor of Drug Development from 1996 to 2000 and as the Duckworth Eminent Scholar since 2000.
Bergeron has received 55 patents and millions of dollars in research grants from numerous public and private institutions.