In the news / Drug Delivery

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More than 1.5 billion people live with chronic pain worldwide, and it’s the most common cause of long-term disability in the United States. Several BIO5 researchers are addressing chronic pain and working to tackle the opioid epidemic through basic science and clinical approaches.
 
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Collaborating scientists have identified what may be the key molecular mechanism responsible for COVID-19 mortality – an enzyme related to neurotoxins found in rattlesnake venom.
 
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University of Arizona Health Sciences researchers recently completed a study that has the potential to improve cancer treatment for colorectal cancer and melanoma by using nanotechnology to deliver chemotherapy in a way that makes it more effective against aggressive tumors.
 
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Dr. Jianqin Lu leads a research team which created the first nanotherapeutic platform of its kind, using a nanotechnology delivery method to make them more effective against aggressive tumors. The researchers note that their nanotechnology platform can be used to deliver a range of cancer therapeutics.
 
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Despite slowdowns in research suffered by universities around the world due to the pandemic, the University of Arizona has experienced solid growth in the commercialization of university inventions. In the last fiscal year alone UArizona received 274 invention disclosures and launched 17 startups.
 
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Despite slowdowns in research suffered by universities around the world due to the pandemic, the University of Arizona has experienced solid growth in the commercialization of university inventions.
 
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Snake bites are now recognised as one of the world's most important neglected health problems and one that disproportionately affects poorer communities. Dr. Leslie Boyer, founding director of BIO5’s Venom Immunochemistry, Pharmacology and Emergency Response (Viper) Institute at the University of Arizona, weighs in on the challenges surrounding antivenom. While many antivenoms are relatively effective, the complex nature of snake venom can make treatment difficult. Access to antivenom can be patchy and treatments with it can be expensive. The World Health Organization considers snake bites to be such a burden on some communities that they recently classified snake bite envenomation – where venom is injected by a bite – as a neglected tropical disease.
 
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In recent years, there’s been a push by pharma to find nonaddictive pain therapies. In 2006, scientists described the curious case of a Pakistani boy who seemed immune to pain. It was discovered that the SCN9A gene provides instructions for making a “sodium channel” found in nerve cells that transmits pain signals to the brain, acting like a volume knob for pain. Now, a biotech startup wants to mimic this mutation to treat people with chronic pain using CRISPR. Dr. Rajesh Khanna, UArizona Pharmacology professor and BIO5 member who specializes in the study of chronic pain, weighs in on the research surrounding the Nav1.7 channel and use of CRISPR therapy.
 
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As vaccines for COVID-19 roll out, so do questions and concerns. Do they work? What are the side effects? Which one is more effective? Pfizer or Moderna? Different companies but both claim their vaccine to be 95% effective. Doctors all over the world are saying, not just having one but two vaccines is incredible. Dr. Elizabeth Connick, UArizona Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and BIO5 member, called the vaccine a home run. Overall, Dr. Connick said, the vaccines are the same but with a few differences, like effects.
 
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The dream for some researchers is to irreversibly cure people's cancer. This includes Drs. Richard Austin, Laurence Hurley, and Vijay in Gokhale. In 2016 the trio came together with the aim to cure cancer through the company they created and call Reglagene. They built a technology to fight cancer that targets genes that become resistant to other therapies.
 
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Two University of Arizona faculty including College of Pharmacy professor and BIO5 member Dr. Laurence Hurley, have been elected as fellows of the National Academy of Inventors. Election as an NAI fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors. The NAI Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.
 
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SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can relieve pain, according to a new study by University of Arizona researchers. The finding may explain why nearly half of all people who get COVID-19 experience few or no symptoms, even though they are able to spread the disease, according to the study's corresponding author Dr. Rajesh Khanna, UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson's Department of Pharmacology professor and member of the BIO5 Institute.
 
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With no known cure, Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5.5M people in the US and is the most common cause of dementia beyond age 65, according to the CDC. A UArizona College of Pharmacy scientist received $3.8M from NIA to develop medications to prevent or reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s.
 
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Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5.5 million in the United States. The number of people living with the disease, the most common cause of dementia beyond age 65, doubles every five years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A UArizona College of Pharmacy scientist, Dr. Chris Hulme, has received $3.8 million from NIA to continue research to develop medications to help prevent or reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s.
 
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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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Dr. Heidi Mansour, Associate Professor in the College of Pharmacy and Director of Pharmaceutics/Pharmacokinetics, and Dr. Rick Schnellmann, Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology teamed up to create a reformulated version of Suramin -  the treatment of choice for sleeping sickness - for wound healing. Mansour’s expertise in drug delivery combined with Schnellmann’s pharmacological expertise led them to develop creams, ointments, hydrogels, nanoparticles, and viscous liquids to treat both oral mucositis and diabetic foot ulcers, providing an easy-to-use, self-administered alternative to injections.
 
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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.