Is it really that easy to find a new inexpensive drug?
Congratulations from CDD!
A team of Collaborators in the CDD network from UCSF, working with Professor McKerrow, and UCSD, working with Professor Reed, discovered that the popular off-patent drug used against arthritis also kills amoebas – the main cause for human dysentery.
The drug known as auranofin is readily available and inexpensive, and if it receives Food and Drug Administation (FDA) approval for this novel use, it will be wonderful news for the many millions of people affected by amebiasis.
This breakthrough was a truly collaborative effort of Anjan Debnath, PhD, working in Sharon Reed’s lab at UCSD, who developed a high-throughput anaerobic screen that could assess amoebal activity, in conjunction with Jim McKerrow’s lab at the Sandler Center at UCSF. Iconix Biosciences can be considered as another collaborator in this humanitarian project. As it was going out of business, the company had donated its 900 compound library, FDA-approved for human use, to the Sandler Center. The result of screening this library against amoebas yielded auranofin as 10 times more potent than the currently available treatment. The team has already received Orphan Drug Status for the drug from the FDA, and has applied for approval to start clinical trials to treat both amebiasis and the parasite Giardia intestinalis in humans.
While FDA approval for the new use of this drug requires quite a bit of work, last year’s conference on the subject showed that drug repurposing often provides a significantly faster path from lab-bench to market than discovering a brand new compound. This is especially crucial in the neglected disease area, where cost is a major limitation. With drug repositioning, a relatively small research investment may result in affordable treatment for millions of people.
We at CDD share the passion for fighting neglected diseases, by supplying a low cost web-based drug discovery software that enables easy and secure knowledge sharing and collaboration. We are especially proud that this discovery comes from Jim McKerrow, one of CDD’s first subscribers, advocates, and the colorful subject of our first CDD Spotlight: https://www.collaborativedrug.com/buzz/2011/03/29/cdd-user-spotlight-dr-james-mckerrow-ucsf/