BiographyDavid Thurston is Emeritus Professor of Drug Discovery in the Institute of Pharmaceutical Science at King’s College London. He has a first degree in pharmacy, an MSc in Precision Medicine and a PhD in synthetic medicinal chemistry. He has worked at two schools of pharmacy in the USA (University of Texas at Austin and Kentucky Colleges of Pharmacy) and four in the UK (the Portsmouth, Nottingham and London Schools of Pharmacy, and now King’s).
David’s academic research team discovered the first C8-linked sequence-selective DNA-interactive PBD dimer which reached Phase II clinical trials in the US and UK in the early 2010s for the treatment of haematological cancers. PBD dimers are now used as the payload component for Antibody-Drug Conjugates (ADCs) in development by a number of companies world-wide as cancer therapies. After successful clinical trials, Loncastuximab tesirine (ADCT-402; Lonca-TTM), under development by ADCT Ltd, reached the IND stage with the FDA in 2020 and is expected to be approved for Diffuse Large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) in 2021.
In 2000, David co-founded the oncology biotech company Spirogen Ltd to commercialize the PBD dimer technology, acting as its CSO until 2011. The company was acquired by AstraZeneca/Medimmune in 2013. After moving to King’s College London in 2012, David worked on next-generation sequence-selective DNA-interactive ADC payloads in his academic laboratory, which led to foundation of the spin-out company Femtogenix Ltd in 2015 for which he still acts as CSO. In 2013, David co-founded another King’s spin-out company, Transcriptogen Ltd, which specializes in novel transcription factor inhibitors for the treatment of a wide range of human cancers.
During his academic career, David has supervised over 50 PhD students and numerous postdoctoral research fellows, has been the PI of several major Programme Grants from Cancer Research UK, and is author of ~200 publications in medicinal chemistry/chemistry journals and books. His textbook, Chemistry and Pharmacology of Anticancer Drugs, is used by undergraduates, postgraduates and cancer researchers in both industry and academia, and the Second Edition was published in 2021. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Drug Discovery book series of the Royal Society of Chemistry which has now published over 75 volumes.
David has been a member of several national committees including the Grants Committees of Cancer Research UK (CR-UK) and the Association of International Cancer Research (AICR; now WCR), and the CR-UK New Agents Committee. He has also been a member of two Research Assessment Exercise (REF) Panels for Pharmacy (1992 and 1996), and the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) and Chemistry, Pharmacy & Standards (CPS) Sub-Committee which advise the Government on the granting of licenses for new drugs for prescription use and for sale to the public. David was one of the founding Directors of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences (APS), and is a past member of the APS Executive Committee. He was also Conference Science Chairman for the 2006 British Pharmaceutical Conference (BPC).
In between his undergraduate pharmacy degree and PhD studies, David completed his pre-registration pharmacy training at the Charing Cross Teaching Hospital (London). He is a registered pharmacist in the UK, and still practices to maintain his clinical skills. He is accredited to offer patients a range of Advanced NHS Services.
David was awarded the Academic Pharmacist of the Year prize from the PHARMAs in 2007, and was awarded Fellowships of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2009.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Discovery of novel anticancer agents and therapies based on a Personalised Medicine approach.
Gym training, travel, reading, community pharmacy, computers and artificial intelligence,
Published: Feb 04, 2021 by https://www.kcl.ac.uk/people/david-thurston
By: David Edwin Thurston
Subjects: Biomedical Science, Chemistry, Healthcare, Life Science, Medicine, Pharmaceutical Science & Regulation
Professor David Thurston's academic research team discovered the first C8-linked sequence-selective DNA-interactive PBD dimer in the early 1990s while based in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Portsmouth (UK). In 2000, Prof Thurston co-founded the oncology biotech company Spirogen Ltd, along with Dr Philip Howard, Professor John Hartley and Dr Chris Martin, to commercialize the PBD dimer technology, acting as its CSO until 2011. The first stand-alone PBD dimer anticancer agent, SJG-136, reached Phase II clinical trials in the US and UK in the early 2010s for the treatment of haematological cancers, although was not progressed. It was later discovered that PBD dimers could be used as cytotoxic payloads for the construction of Antibody-Drug Conjugates (ADCs). One example of an agent of this type, Loncastuximab tesirine (ADCT-402; Lonca-T or Lonca), is presently under development by ADCT Ltd. It reached the IND stage with the FDA in 2020, and is expected to be approved for the treatment of Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) in 2021. Spirogen Ltd was acquired by AstraZeneca/Medimmune in 2013, and Prof Thurston started work on next-generation sequence-selective DNA-interactive ADC payloads after moving his academic group to King’s College London in 2012. Along with Drs Miraz Rahman and Paul Jackson, this work led to foundation of the King's College spin-out company Femtogenix Ltd in 2015, for which Prof Thurston still acts as CSO.