Battling Back Against Cancer
There are about 100 different types of tumors. To battle back, scientists worldwide are looking for the best medications. Oliver Politz is working on new potential treatments, such as one to fight Non-Hodgkin lymphomas and another against bladder cancer. The challenge: to create medications that are tolerable yet also highly efficient.
Our research can save lives. For example, currently, I´m working on two substances which are in clinical development stage: a PI3 kinase and a FGF receptor inhibitor. If these substances prove to be successful, in the future they could help numerous patients with different types of tumors.
At best, only one percent of all ideas ever make it to this stage. This is the challenge of my job. Each drug candidate has to be comprehensively evaluated and tested, and each has to prove its safety and efficacy not only in the lab and in animals but eventually in patients. These are reasons why drug development has immense costs and needs time. But our endurance pays off.
A recent phase II clinical study showed good results for a PI3 kinase inhibitor against Non-Hodgkin lymphomas, a malignant disease of the lymph system. The agent inhibits a specific enzyme – the Phosphoinositid-3-Kinase, or short PI3 kinase and stops cells from uncontrolled growth. But this new compound showed promising effects in a phase II clinical study. In some of the patients, the tumor actually disappeared. This is a very special result for us, and it reminds us what we are working for all these days.
Moving Along the Research Stages
After work, I like to play drums. They’re my release. I learned to play in a music school as a teenager. When I played them at home in those days, people could hear me half a mile away. Today, I have an electrical drum set, so my wife can even sleep in the next room. I put on my headphones, start playing and relax. After this, I´m prepared for the next day´s challenges.
I started working in early stage research for Bayer 15 years ago. Two years ago, I changed to late-stage research. I’m amazed, over and over again, when I realize that we´re all just small parts in the overall development process. But some of the things that I do are actually crucial for a medications’ introduction into the market later. This knowledge is one of the most exciting parts of my job.
New Agents Must Face Their Competitors
In my job, math and statistics play a major role: Clinical phase II studies need to show the efficiency of a substance in treating patients. In clinical phase III, the substance’s efficacy and safety is compared to the available standard of care. Transitions between these clinical phases used to be very strict. Now, good results during a phase II study in a tumor indication can be used as support for a New Drug Application (NDA) and could eventually lead to a drug’s approval. For example, we just submitted a NDA for the PI3 kinase inhibitor with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In moments like these, we feel very close to the patients. We try to help them with our innovation.
I grew into my field of research. Growing up, I wanted to become a marine biologist, but that wasn´t easy in East Germany, where I lived. So I studied microbiology and then I moved on to study molecular biology later. This path finally led me to cancer research, which makes me happy. It was a pleasure to reach this point, and I´d follow this path again.
CV Oliver Politz
|1990||Diploma (combined BS & MS) in Biology, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University Greifswald. Thesis: “Study of regulation of ß-glucanase of Bacillus macerans by glucose”|
|1990-1994||PhD in Microbial Genetics, the Institute of Microbiology at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany. PhD Thesis: “Structure/function relationships in Bacillus Endo-(1-3,1-4)-ß-Glucanases”|
|1994-1995||Postdoctoral scientific research assistant at the Institute of Biology, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.|
|1996-1997||Postdoctoral Fellowship at Carlsberg Research Center Copenhagen (Carlsberg Laboratory), Denmark.|
|1997-2000||Postdoctorate at Benjamin Franklin Dermatology University Hospital of the Free University, Berlin, Germany.|
|Aug. 2000-current||Research Scientist, Department of Oncology, Bayer AG, Berlin, Germany.|
|Since July 2013||Member of Bayer Expert Club as Principal Scientist|
Pseudoexons and regulatory elements in the genomic sequence of the beta-chemokine, alternative macrophage activation-associated CC-chemokine (AMAC)-1.
Cytokine 12, 120-126.
Politz, O., Kodelja, V., Guillot, P., Orfanos, C. E., and Goerdt, S. (2000).
Determinants for the enhanced thermostability of hybrid (1-3,1-4)-beta-glucanases.
Eur J Biochem 216, 829-834.
Politz, O., Simon, O., Olsen, O., and Borriss, R. (1993).
AKT1 (E17K) mutation profiling in breast cancer: prevalence, concurrent oncogenic alterations, and blood-based detection.
BMC Cancer 16, 622.
Rudolph, M., Anzeneder, T., Schulz, A., Beckmann, G., Byrne, A. T., Jeffers, M., Pena, C., Politz, O., Kochert, K., Vonk, R., and Reischl, J. (2016).
Novel DNA methylation markers with potential prognostic relevance in advanced malignant melanoma identified using COBRA assays.
Melanoma Res 25, 225-231.
Kaehler, K. C., Politz, O., Henderson, D., Ulbrich, H. F., Hauschild, A., Mund, C., and Egberts, F. (2015).
BAY 1125976, a selective allosteric AKT1/2 inhibitor, exhibits high efficacy on AKT signaling-dependent tumor growth in mouse models.
Int J Cancer. 2017 Jan 15;140(2):449-459.
Politz O., Siegel F., Bärfacker L., Bömer U., Hägebarth A., Scott WJ., Michels M., Ince S., Neuhaus R., Meyer K., Fernández-Montalván AE., Liu N., von Nussbaum F., Mumberg D., Ziegelbauer K.
BAY 1125976 is a selective allosteric AKT1/2 inhibitor with high efficacy in AKT1-mutated cancers.
Paper presented at: Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (San Diego, California, USA: AACR).
Politz, O., Scholz, A., Haegebarth, A., Liu, N., Baerfacker, L., Ince, S., Neuhaus, R., Boemer, U., Michels, M., von Nussbaum, F., and Mumberg, D. (2014).