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Dr. Oliver Politz: 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.

Some things that I do are crucial for a medications’ later release. This is one of the most exciting parts of my job.

Dr. Oliver Politz is testing new agents against cancer.

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.

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 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 Institute of Biology, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.

1996-1997 Postdoctoral Fellowship at Carlsberg Research Center Copenhagen (Carlsberg Laboratory), Denmark.

1997-2000 Postdoc at dermatology university hospital Benjamin Franklin at the Free University, Berlin, Germany.

Aug. 2000 – current Research Scientist, Department of Oncology of Bayer AG

Since July 2013 Member of Bayer Expert Club as Principal Scientist

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