Drug Discovery and Development
Dr Jack Tuszynski intends to apply an interdisciplinary approach in developing novel chemotherapy drugs and new methods for treating cancer. He has been studying the protein modeling and pharmacokinetics of tubulin, a protein indispensable for cell division, whose specific variant is over-expressed in cancer. Now, using their detailed knowledge of tubulin's structure at the level of individual atoms, Tuszynski and his team are using computational power to design drugs to combat cancer with reduced negative effects on healthy cells.
A drug treatment developed at the University of Alberta to improve the quality of life for women with ovarian cancer has been approved for use in Canada. Dr Terry Allen, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, developed the treatment, which uses a novel, targeted delivery system. Stealth liposomes disguise themselves as water, which allows them to circulate in the body for a longer period of time before being recognized and destroyed by the immune system. This increases their chances of reaching the targeted tumour sites.
A unified approach to research in the area of drug development has created a revolution in the discovery and design of new drugs and in our understanding of the basis for their effectiveness. This new approach has attracted a group of innovative researchers from the Faculties of Science, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Medicine and Dentistry, and Engineering. Their achievements in drug discovery, medicinal chemistry, biomolecular design, and rational drug design have gained international recognition. Powerful computing that allows visualization of molecular interactions plays a key role in this work.
Three research groups, with international reputations for their interactive approaches to problems in drug design, are exploring the area of carbohydrates. The eventual goal of the innovative application of carbohydrate chemistry to problems in biology is the development of drugs for the prevention of bacterial and viral diseases. A major achievement in this area is the success in isolating and stabilizing fifteen enzymes for use in the preparation of hundreds of natural and synthetic drugs.
The development of a valuable new approach to chemical synthesis, using organoselenium chemistry, has enabled the synthesis of cholesterol-lowering agents and anti-tumour drugs.
Research in the chemical details of biological processes has led to new insights into drug action and new approaches to creating medicinally effective drugs. Exploration of ways to improve drug delivery and the safety of anticancer drugs led to the first description of the Stealth technology and clinical approval of a product for treatment of AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma and for ovarian cancer. New, dual-effect compounds to treat congestive heart failure have been designed and are being evaluated for their potential as therapies.