December 4, 2008

Wani Receives 'Magic Bullet' Lifetime Achievement Award

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Mansukh Wani, Ph.D., focuses on the isolation and characterization of biologically active natural products and synthesis of anticancer and antifertility agents.
Mansukh Wani

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Mansukh Wani, Ph.D., who retired from RTI International, was recognized for lifetime achievement in the field of pharmaceutics at the second Paul Ehrlich World Conference on Magic Bullets, held recently in Germany.

Wani received a Magic Bullet Award for his career scientific contributions, and particularly for his co-discovery, with the late Monroe Wall, of the "magic bullets" of Taxol® and camptothecin™. He was also one of the keynote speakers at the Ehrlich conference.

Paul Ehrlich was a pioneer in the field of immunity who built the foundation for chemotherapy, receiving the 1908 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Following a brush with tuberculosis, he conceived the creation of "magic bullets"—compounds that would have a specific attraction to disease-causing microorganisms. These magic bullets would seek out these organisms and destroy them, with no harmful effects on the bodies of patients.

The Ehrlich conference brings together clinical and pharmacological scientists from around the world to recognize achievement in the discovery and development of magic bullets, in accord with Paul Ehrlich's vision. It is sponsored by the International Society of Anti-Infective Pharmacology and the German Pharmaceutical Society.

Wani and Wall's discovery of the unique mode of action for the compounds used in Taxol and camptothecin has saved and extended the lives of millions of people. Today, Taxol is approved for the treatment of breast, ovarian and lung cancers and Kaposi's sarcoma, and is being investigated for other uses as well. First-generation analogs of camptothecin are approved for the treatment of ovarian and colon cancers.

Born in India, Wani earned a bachelor's and master's degree in chemistry before coming to America to earn a doctorate degree at Indiana University. He later conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Wisconsin before joining RTI in 1962.