The Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) has been granted $6 million from the Cancer Research and Prevention Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to support the Combinatorial Drug Discovery Program from TAMHSC’s Institute for Biosciences and Technology (IBT).
The research project is being developed based on a series of successful drugs which were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with the purpose to develop novel therapies targeting different types of cancer.
“We are in the midst of a period of remarkable advances in our understanding of the basic molecular processes that underlie many forms of cancer,” explained the primary investigator Peter Davies, PhD, MD, professor and director of the Center for Translational Cancer Research at the Texas A&M IBT. The Combinatorial Drug Discovery Program seeks to address a challenge associated with these advancements: how to convert that knowledge to new treatments that ultimately benefit patients.
The program is led by assistant professor, Clifford Stephan, PhD, who believes that “this grant is going to allow us to move in new directions. The new equipment will not only be geared toward faster management of samples, but it will allow us to pursue more complicated experiments based on models developed by clinicians.”
The first phase of the program was already a success, leading to an increased demand for specialized services and resulting in an expansion of the university’s infrastructures. Moreover, TAMHSC will use the CPRIT grant to acquire next generation ultrafast high-throughput microscopes and state-of-the-art robotic dispensers based on acoustic rather than mechanical delivery. “We’re here to help in the discovery of new treatments. We are working with clinicians and clinical investigators as a team to discover new ways to treat some very terrible diseases,” said Dr. Stephan.
The team was already able to demonstrate the effectiveness of a drug combination used in tandem with radiation for the treatment of lung cancer, with investigators currently conducting clinical trials to further test the treatment. In addition, the team is also working on a therapy for chemotherapy-resistant breast cancer as well as pediatric brain cancer, in collaboration with the Texas Children’s Hospital.