The Hampton University Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the School of Pharmacy, was selected to receive a $1.35 million research grant, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for a project on developing novel drug therapies for the treatment of lung cancer. Dr. Anand Iyer and Dr. Neelam Azad, assistant professors of pharmaceutical sciences, will serve as the grant’s principal investigator and co-principal investigator respectively. The project, “Anti-Tumorigenic Potential of Novel Digitoxin Analogues,” has been funded for a period of five years, extending through August 2017.
The grant focuses on exploring the modalities that dictate pathogenesis of lung cancer. The primary aim of the project is to develop novel anti-cancer compounds with high specificity and selectivity towards lung cancer. Lung cancer is currently one of the leading causes of cancer death in the United States, accounting for more deaths than breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer combined. It has a very poor prognosis and a low rate of survival, with at least eight out of every 10 individuals diagnosed with lung cancer ultimately succumbing to the disease, according to the American Lung Association.
“Given the lack of a viable therapeutic agent against lung cancer, we aim to address this unmet medical need by synthesizing novel drug entities using a combinatorial approach involving structural bioinformatics, synthetic chemistry and molecular biology techniques,” Iyer said. “The ultimate goal is to engineer a suitable drug candidate that can effectively target lung cancer, with an eventual goal to conduct clinical trials.”
Last year, the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences received a $1.3 million grant from the NIH and National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to fund the “Impact of Oxidative Stress-Regulated Angiogenesis in Pulmonary Fibrosis” research project. Drs. Azad and Iyer serve as principal and co-investigators respectively on that project.
“This is the second substantial million-dollar grant in as many years for our research group,” said Azad. “With the current emphasis on research at Hampton University, we are truly excited to receive this grant, which will help expand our ongoing involvement in biomedical research and enhance our scientific output.”
The proposed project capitalizes on the core research competencies within the School of Pharmacy and is in line with its mission to address significant gaps in healthcare.