Why is cancer drug discovery so difficult?

Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2007 Feb;6(2):115-20. doi: 10.1038/nrd2155. Epub 2006 Dec 8.


Thirty-five years after the 'war on cancer' was declared, the discovery of anticancer drugs remains a highly challenging endeavour. Here, we consider the factors responsible, such as tumour heterogeneity, and suggest strategies to improve the chances of short-term success in the development of novel anticancer drugs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Benzamides
  • Drug Design*
  • Humans
  • Imatinib Mesylate
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Piperazines / therapeutic use
  • Pyrimidines / therapeutic use
  • Quantitative Trait Loci


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Benzamides
  • Piperazines
  • Pyrimidines
  • Imatinib Mesylate