The Drugs Don't Work

Associate Professor Richard Callaghan looks at many diseases including cancer, malaria, parasitic and bacterial infections are managed through the use of drug therapy. Unfortunately the effectiveness of drug therapy is frequently severely limited in the clinic. In some cases the drugs provide an initial benefit but over time their effectiveness diminishes. Alternatively, a patient can display no response at all to the drug therapy.

These two scenarios result from the emergence of drug resistance. The resistance arises from the ability of cells, bacteria and parasites to evolve and adapt to the damage caused by the drug treatment. In fact, the cells or organisms can develop a number of strategies to combat drug effectiveness. One of the most widely used defence mechanisms involves the use of drug pumps. These cellular pumps specifically prevent drugs entering cancer cells, parasites and bacteria. Consequently, the drugs are no longer able to kill the target cells.

Our research effort aims to describe:

  1. how this pump works,
  2. how it recognises so many therapeutic drugs and
  3. devise strategies to combat its unwanted actions.


On campus
In school


Interactive presentation

Program duration

60 minutes (flexible)

Year group

Years 10 -12

Number of students

100 (flexible)


Weekdays excluding public holidays. Please contact us for availability throughout the rest of the year. At least 1 months’ notice required


No cost