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5 extraordinary university clinical trials going on right now

by Neoteryx | 2 min read

shutterstock_543205222.jpgMany people think that clinical trials, separating potentially beneficial drugs from those too toxic to use, are carried out by pharmaceutical companies, exclusively. But a large number of trials, including some of the most important and innovative ones, are conducted by universities. Sometimes their results are truly remarkable.

In the 1970s, the University of Dundee in Scotland was doing basic research when the scientists discovered an enzyme they called GSK3. The enzyme was not interesting at the time, but now it is at the center of two important clinical studies.

1. GSK3 works normally in the glucose cycle and many other processes, but it also engages in abnormal activities. GSK3 attaches phosphate to a protein called Tau in the brain, causing the formation of neurofibrillary tangles, part of Alzheimer's disease. A GSK3 inhibitor called Trideglusib was developed and has passed its Phase I trials. It is now starting the next phase.

2. Another study involving GSK3 inhibitors is being carried out at the University of London. GSK3 is involved in causing inflammation in teeth. It mediates the development of dental cavities. Researchers are showing that inserting biodegradable collagen sponges, soaked in GSK3 inhibitors, into damaged teeth can promote the development of dentine in the area, which eventually replaces the sponge and heals the tooth naturally.

University clinical trials are also making strides in areas such as gene editing, drug development, and fighting diseases once considered bulletproof.

3. The University of Pennsylvania will be the lead in the first clinical study on CRISPR-Cas9, a gene editing technology. The therapy has caused excitement as results from animal studies showed marked improvement in a wide variety of cancers. CRISPR gene editing may benefit many cancer patients.

4. Progeria, a rare hereditary disease that physically ages children dramatically in just a few years, is the target of clinical trials by Harvard University. They have identified four different drugs, alone and in combination, that have the potential to save children from a devastating and invariably fatal disease.

5. Another academic center, the University of Liverpool, is heading up trials on a new osteoarthritis drug, APPA, a combination of two drugs that work synergistically. APPA acts on neutrophils, a type of white blood cell important in the defense against infection. But neutrophils also help to induce inflammation. APPA turns off the inflammatory response of neutrophils while leaving the infection defense intact.

These are just a few of the new and exciting trials that may help to make our world and our health better.

Originally published Oct 24, 2017 4:46:00 AM, updated on May 24, 2018


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