In the news / Drug Delivery

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A team of UArizona Health Sciences researchers is studying whether or not certain copper-based chemical compounds could potentially stop the virus that causes COVID-19 dead in its tracks. The lab of Dr. Michael Johnson uses chemical compounds that deliver copper to disease-causing bacteria like Streptococcus pneumoniae and MRSA. The copper kills them. Building on the new COVID-19 findings, Dr. Johnson elicited the help of additional UArizona researchers including Drs. Koenraad Van Doorslaer, Wei Wang, and Elisa Tomat, to assist in the study as to whether or not these same compounds could block SARS-CoV-2 from even entering human cells or hinder their ability to replicate once they do.
 
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To help combat the devastating effects of opioid abuse on a regional level, several UArizona Health Sciences programs are providing education and training about opioids, addiction, and naloxone administration. Dr. Todd Vanderah, department head and professor in the UArizona COM-T Department of Pharmacology and BIO5 faculty member, discusses the importance of this type of public outreach and research and how this is key to decreasing the stigma of addiction.
 
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Regents Professor Emeritus and UArizona CBC faculty Dr. Victor Hruby, is one of two university academics being honored as National Academy of Inventors Fellows, the highest professional distinction awarded to academic inventors. Known as a world leader in peptide research as it relates to health, disease and human behavior, Dr. Hruby holds more than 50 issued patents, and is dedicated to answering challenging research questions and then translating those discoveries to the public via intellectual property protection and commercial pathways.
 
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A group of UAHS researchers including BIO5 members Drs. Rick Schnellmann, Roberta Brinton, Todd Vanderah, Monica Kraft, Scott Boitano, Andrew Capaldi, Michael Worobey, Louise Hecker, and Julie Ledford participated in the “Discovering New Medicines in Arizona” one-day summit, hosted by the AZ Center for Drug Discovery and the UA Cancer Center. The event sought to highlight key areas of research that seek to treat diseases prevalent in Arizona while establishing collaborations that enable success for future research and discoveries.
 
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Leading experts including UA Pharmacology and Toxicology assistant professor and BIO5 member Dr. Jun Wang, say understanding how the influenza virus replicates inside the body helps researchers develop a wider range of antiviral drugs. After finding medication resistant mutations within multiple flu viruses, Dr. Wang and other research teams across the globe, are looking to develop new drugs to target them.
 
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Dr. Irving Kron, a BIO5 member, professor of surgery with the UA College of Medicine - Tucson, and senior associate vice president for UA Health Sciences, has been named the new contact principal investigator (PI) for the UA Health Sciences and Banner Health 'All of Us' research program and precision medicine initiative. In his new role, Dr. Kron will lead the multiple UA and Banner Health established PI leadership teams, which include a team led by fellow BIO5 member Dr. Eric Reiman.
 
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A team led by The BIO5 Institute's Roberta Diaz Brinton, PhD, director of the Center for Innovation in Brain Science, received the multi-million dollar grant from the National Institute on Aging. The five-year grant will fund a national multi-site Phase 2 clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of allopregnanalone, or allo, as a treatment for individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s who carry the genetic risk factor for the disease. This award supports the goals of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act.
 
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Aqualung Therapeutics Corporation founder and CEO Dr. Joe "Skip" Garcia, a BIO5 Faculty Member and UA COM-T Professor of Internal Medicine, Medicine, Pharmacology & Toxicology, Physiological Sciences, and Physiology, received the National Institute of Health Fastrack Award to develop a novel immune-based therapeutic antibody for critically ill patients with an acute lung injury.
 
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Most studies have shown correlations between the microbiome and the effectiveness of drugs, but a recent study is one of the first to dig into how these associations work. Better understanding the causal links in drug responses may mean scientists are able to do more with our gut microbes.  BIO5 faculty and UA College of Medicine-Phoenix associate professor Dr. Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz, thinks this may pave the way for doctors to choose the most effective drug for individual patients.
 
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BIO5 member Dr. Michael Johnson, Assistant Professor of Immunobiology in the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, is using a five-year, $1.9 million grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to explore whether copper could be the cornerstone for the next generation of antibiotics.
 
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Tucson-based drug startup Cancer Prevention Pharmaceuticals Inc. has announced the launch of a Phase 2 clinical trial at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to test the company’s flagship drug candidate for preventing gastric cancer. The company was co-founded by BIO5 Institute member and Cancer Center member Dr. Eugene Gerner.