Texas A&M pharmacy researchers developing tool to test effectiveness of drugs

Narendra Kumar, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, Jayshree Mishra, Ph.D., research assistant, serve as co-investigators on a sub-contract in an NIH-funded initiative to develop a device that measure drug effectiveness. Texas A&M University-Kingsville electrical engineering graduate students Lakshmi Korrapati and Saikrishna Krishna work in the lab on the project.

Narendra Kumar, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, Jayshree Mishra, Ph.D., research assistant, serve as co-investigators on a sub-contract in an NIH-funded initiative to develop a device that measure drug effectiveness. Texas A&M University-Kingsville electrical engineering graduate students Lakshmi Korrapati and Saikrishna Krishna work in the lab on the project.

KINGSVILLE, Texas – Someday, doctors might specifically attack diseased cells and – at the same time – protect the normal, healthy cells fighting infections and inflammation caused by treatments.

Supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health-Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR/STTR), a team of Texas A&M scientists in collaboration with Michigan-based 21st Century Therapeutic Inc., are working toward turning that idea into a reality.

Narendra Kumar, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, is the inventor of the idea and serves as the principal investigator on the sub-contract of this award at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy.

“Our college is involved in translational research,” said David Potter, chair of pharmaceutical sciences at the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy. “Our researchers are in the process of developing new agents to treat inflammatory diseases.”

The researchers are involved in the development of technology to measure the effectiveness of novel drugs used in prevention of transplant rejections or cancer treatments. Their findings could create more effective drugs for inflammation related complications that will reduce the overall health care cost to the patient and aid doctors by providing tools to treat diseases.

“Most of the diseases stem from sustained chronic inflammation culminating into diabetes, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s diseases and different cancers,” Kumar said. “We want to work on a way for the pharmaceutical industry to make potent drugs that can enhance the therapeutic treatment of multiple diseases that originate from chronic inflammation and compromise the immune system.”

By doing this, the immune system remains strong to fight only the diseased cells, sparing the healthy cells that could fight infections and increase the acceptance of the transplanted organ. The technology can also increase the potency of the drug and reduce the health care cost for the treatment of different diseases that originate from chronic inflammation including different types of cancer.

“Through this innovative technology we can adjust the activation and deactivation of a key enzyme that regulates chronic inflammation in the human body,” said Jayshree Mishra, Ph.D., research assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy. Both Kumar and Mishra have filed a patent application in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the technology.

The discovery will be beneficial to patients by increasing the therapeutic effects of treatments and reducing the recovery time. Additionally, this could also be used in asthma and allergy patients.

“With the skyrocketing health care cost, drug companies and hospitals along with universities have shared responsibility to provide better tools and technologies that can lower the cost of treatment and increases the success rate particularly for inflammation related complications such as transplants and cancer,” Kumar said. “This timely project strives to achieve just that.”

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