UK College of Pharmacy to develop treatments for people exposed to dirty bomb

10/18/05

LEXINGTON, KY (Oct. 18, 2005) -- Researchers from the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy's Center for Pharmaceutical Science and Technology (CPST), in partnership with ChemPharma International, a Richmond-based pharmaceutical company, have received $1.2 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop treatments to be used in radiation emergencies such as after exposure to dirty bombs.

"In addition to protecting the citizens of Kentucky and the U.S. from terrorist attacks, this contract is an important step in UK being recognized as ethe place' where new drug molecules for the treatment of nuclear or bioterrorism exposures are developed into pharmaceutical products and undergo clinical testing," said Michael Jay, Ph.D., principal investigator of the study and director of the CPST.

In May, the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) solicited proposals to develop alternative formulations or delivery methods that help clear the body of radioactive elements like plutonium to be used in a mass exposure situation. According to the NIAID, the potential for radiation exposures to occur from terrorists acts, radiation accidents or nuclear detonation mandates that the health care system develop and implement preparedness plans that include the stockpiling of radioprotective drugs and therapeutics.

Currently, radioactive materials must be removed from the body by administering intravenous drugs. However, researchers from UK and ChemPharma are proposing to develop an orally administered dosage formulation with the ultimate goal of identifying an effective treatment for inclusion in the Strategic National Stockpile. The funding award is for $1,204,374 during the next 21 months.

The NIAID is facilitating the development of this project because oral formulations -- such as capsules or tablets -- would be easier to distribute and administer during a mass exposure situation.

"As an alumnus of UK and member of the private business sector in Kentucky, I am very excited about working with the College of Pharmacy on this project," said Jeff Lawrence, Ph.D., director of ChemPharma International. "I consider this an excellent opportunity to demonstrate what the combined strengths of the research and academic environment at UK and the technology business sector of Kentucky are able to achieve."

This collaboration among researchers at the university and ChemPharma along with the vital role of the CPST, demonstrates UK's commitment to being a national and international leader in innovative research that has an impact far beyond the Commonwealth, said Kenneth B. Roberts, Ph.D., Dean of the UK College of Pharmacy.

The CPST is an FDA-registered pharmaceutical manufacturing facility utilizing current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) focusing on formulation and development of pharmaceutical testing methods and the manufacturing of drug products. The CPST will expand in 2006 with the opening of a new 20,000-square-foot facility which will be the largest sterile pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Kentucky. The new facility, located at the UK Coldstream Research Campus, will play a major role in providing manufacturing services of National Stockpile agents which could lead to greatly expanded employment opportunities.

ChemPharma International provides worldwide research and development services and custom chemical synthesis focused on drug discovery for the pharmaceutical industry. They have collaborated with the CPST during the past two years on a variety of projects; however, this federally funded grant is by far the most significant endeavor with tUK to date.

"ChemPharma views their role in this project as a step towards fulfilling the university's goal of bringing technologically advanced private industry and the university together to create opportunities for Central Kentucky," Lawrence said.

"This is another example of the cutting-edge research that is being conducted at UK. This work not only benefits Kentucky, but the country as a whole. Funding from the NIH makes it possible, but also signals the high quality of the work that our researchers are doing" said Wendy Baldwin, executive vice president for research.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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