Developing new formulations and therapeutic targets for approved drugs can help treat cancer and other diseases. This is the concept behind the South Dakota State University-run Center for Drug, Disease and Delivery, which recently received a five-year award of $ 3.9 million from the South Dakota Research and Commercialization Council.
The center will provide an integrated framework for drug development and build academic, industrial and clinical partnerships to advance these new treatments, according to Director Om Perumal, professor and head of the university’s Pharmaceutical Sciences division.
The center will focus on modifying existing drugs to optimize their biological and delivery properties, identify new molecular targets for existing drugs, and develop new formulations and delivery systems for existing drugs. It will use a collaborative framework to create intellectual property through interdisciplinary projects and foster an entrepreneurial mindset to empower the state’s biomedical and pharmaceutical workforce. Research will focus on diseases that affect human and animal health.
Reusing drugs that have already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration can shorten the time frame and reduce the cost of getting new treatments to market, Perumal said. “An estimated 40% of drugs fail during development because the biological properties and the delivery properties of the compounds are not optimal,” he added. “[A drug may work] on cells in a culture dish, but in order to be ingested by the human body it must be soluble in water Or it may have worked well in animal studies, but animals and humans metabolize drugs differently. ”Modifying such drugs to make them more effective is“ like taking an old car and overhauling it, ”said Perumal.
In the next five years, four research projects with high potential for competition for external federal and private funds and the development of technologies that are of interest to industrial partners will be funded at the center for a maximum of two years. The first project will further develop a targeted therapy to reduce side effects and increase the effectiveness of a commonly used chemotherapy drug in ovarian cancer. A second project responds to the lack of high quality implantable donor corneas with the development of a new biomaterial for the production of corneal implants.
In the center’s third year, a Perumal-led team will advance a drug formulation for the prevention and / or treatment of early-stage breast cancer using a delivery method licensed by South Dakota Innovation Partners. In addition, for the third year, a team of researchers will work to develop a targeted drug delivery system for the treatment of metastatic brain cancer.
In addition to these key projects, the center also supports new interdisciplinary projects by soliciting funding applications from academic and private institutions in the state.
Edited by Gary Cramer