University of Strathclyde

Leucovorin treatment for colorectal cancer

The treatment Leucovorin® was produced from research conducted at the University of Strathclyde in the 1980s, led by Professor Colin Suckling OBE and the late Professor Hamish Wood CBE.

Leucovorin was an established drug made from folic acid, but it contained 'molecular baggage' molecules which were not biologically active and could even be harmful. Concern about drugs in general containing inactive molecules peaked when it emerged that molecular baggage had led to the Thalidomide tragedy. As regulators called for purer drugs, the Professors recognised the scientific challenge and began to develop a pure form of Leucovorin. A patent for the drug - and the process used to make it - was filed in 1986. It is now used in the treatment of colorectal cancers.