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Jessica Wapner

series: Drexel Interview

air date: 4/17/14 2:00 PM

In this episode of The Drexel InterView, host Paula Marantz Cohen interviews Jessica Wapner, author of The Philadelphia Chromosome: A Mutant Gene and the Quest to Cure Cancer at the Genetic Level. This book discusses the painstaking research process leading to the development of the "miracle" drug, Gleevec. Gleevec effectively eradicates symptoms of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a cancer of the white blood cells. The story of Gleevec is an adventure story, a mystery, an intellectual journey, and a triumphant narrative-one which Wapner tells with extraordinary eloquence and lucidity. She traces the process that began with the discovery of the Philadelphia chromosome, a genetic mutation associated with CML. Wapner then explains the science behind "rational drug design" of the sort used for Gleevec to treat cancer without chemotherapy. She also discusses the politics of drug development, and gives a balanced assessment of the sometimes-conflicting interests of researchers, corporate executives, and patients. Finally, Wapner addresses how social media has played an important role in promoting Gleevec, as well as how Dr. Brian Drucker worked tirelessly to support clinical trials and FDA approval of the drug. This interview gives insight into a particular cancer breakthrough-but also connects it to what may be possible for the treatment of other cancers in the future. Join Paula Marantz Cohen, Drexel University Distinguished Professor of English and program host, as she talks with Jessica Wapner in this episode of The Drexel InterView.

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