Meet our Scientists
Christian Zurth: A Lifetime at Bayer
Dr. Christian Zurth has been working for Bayer for his whole life. Following 25 years in the area of “Women's Healthcare,” he switched to oncology in 2012. Today, he investigates how drugs move through the human body and how to optimize their use.
Even after 30 years on the job, I'm still learning new things.
My career path is really rather unusual nowadays. I’ve spent my whole life working for Bayer, and I’ve never been bored. I worked in “Women´s Healthcare” for 25 years until I switched to oncology five years ago. I love learning new things – my curiosity is growing as I get older.
Medicine with Alpha Rays
The most exciting part of my job working in pharmacokinetics is finding out how and where medicines affect the human body. At the moment, I’m observing a medical drug to treat prostate cancer. Its active ingredient is radium dichloride – a radioactive substance that emits alpha rays. This component fights metastases in bones, where 90 percent of prostate cancer metastases are found. That’s exactly where the medicine takes effect. Inside the bones, radium enters the growing metastases by mimicking calcium, and the resulting radioactive decay destroys the dangerous tumor cells. Radium’s radiation is full of energy, but in contrast to gamma rays, alpha rays don’t penetrate very far so they less damage the bones or surrounding tissues. Alpha rays can’t even pass through a piece of paper. The rays also don’t go very far in the bone itself, either, only just to the edge of bone marrow. Consequently, our active ingredient is very precise, and it produces relatively few side effects
Tracking the Agents
Along with my team, we conduct clinical trials to investigate the effects and side effects of a drug. My main task within the team is to characterize the path of the active ingredient as it moves to its target location. This includes its decomposition, the substances released in the process, and the influence of disorders, for example, kidney dysfuncion, as well as interactions with other medications. Even if a medicine proves to be very effective, but its metabolites cause massive side effects, or are even toxic, we won’t be able to submit it for market approval. We start by testing the effect of a drug on its own. Afterwards, we check whether its effectiveness improves in combination with other compounds, or whether a particular combination produces more side effects. In this way, you might say we offer what’s best for the patient. This makes my job very user-focused, and this motivates me every single day to continue.
My curiosity for new things isn’t limited to my work. On bike trips with my wife, I like to explore Germany’s and Austria’s landscapes. At home, we track and document all of the tours we have done so far. This map is already pretty full, but just like in my professional work, there are still many unknown places to be discovered. On our tours, we always have a destination in mind, but we only go as far as we feel like. We just let the road be our guidethough the landscape and to local attractions. That’s relaxation at its best.
CV: Christian Zurth
1956 Born in Berlin, Germany
1981 Diploma of Biology at “Freie Universität Berlin”
1984 Postdoctoral research in zoology and biochemistry
1984-1986 Scientist for contrast agents, Schering AG, Berlin
1986 Lab Head for Endocrine Therapies, Department Pharmakokinetics, Schering AG, Berlin
1996 Head of working group, Fertility Control and Hormone Therapy, Schering AG, Berlin
1999 Scientific Expert for “Human Kinetics FC/HAT“
2007 Senior Pharmacokinetics Expert in Women’s Healthcare
2012 Principal Scientist, Senior Pharmacokinetics Expert, Clinical Pharmacokinetics Oncology, Bayer Pharma AG, Berlin