Frontiers in Oncology

J. Javier Hernandez, Michael Pryszlak, Lindsay Smith, Connor Yanchus, Naheed Kurji, Vijay M. Shahani and Steven V. Molinski

November 14, 2017

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The repositioning or “repurposing” of existing therapies for alternative disease indications is an attractive approach that can save significant investments of time and money during drug development. For cancer indications, the primary goal of repurposed therapies is on efficacy, with less restriction on safety due to the immediate need to treat this patient population. This report provides a high-level overview of how drug developers pursuing repurposed assets have previously navigated funding efforts, regulatory affairs, and intellectual property laws to commercialize these “new” medicines in oncology. This article provides insight into funding programs (e.g., government grants and philanthropic organizations) that academic and corporate initiatives can leverage to repurpose drugs for cancer.

In addition, we highlight previous examples where secondary uses of existing, Food and Drug Administration- or European Medicines Agency-approved therapies have been predicted in silico and successfully validated in vitro and/or in vivo (i.e., animal models and human clinical trials) for certain oncology indications. Finally, we describe the strategies that the pharmaceutical industry has previously employed to navigate regulatory considerations and successfully commercialize their drug products. These factors must be carefully considered when repurposing existing drugs for cancer to best benefit patients and drug developers alike. See full article.

Dana Farber Award Laura Kleiman CWR for Cancer SMALLLaura Kleiman, PhD, has no trouble seeking her professional passion. She pursues it everywhere – at work, at home, even in the car. Dana-Farber’s 2018 Community Service Award recipient, who will be honored at Thursday afternoon’s Martin Luther King celebration (see box), is focused on one goal: making eective cancer treatment available to as many people as possible. By day she is scientic research director of Dana- Farber’s cBio Center, working with researchers and oncologists mining genomic patient data for molecular clues that might thwart cancer’s resistance to existing therapies. On nights and weekends, she puts on her volunteer lab coat as founder and executive director of Cures Within Reach for Cancer (CWR-4C), a Boston-based initiative sponsored by the nonprofit Cures Within Reach that funds and facilitates the development of new cancer treatments based on repurposing generic drugs already FDA-approved for other purposes.

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PTSM: Pharmaceutical Technology Sourcing and Management
Volume 12, Issue 10

By Cynthia A. Challener

Oct 04, 2017

Compared to traditional drug discovery approaches, drug repurposing, repositioning, and rescue can be faster and cheaper

Although drug repurposing has been receiving growing attention in recent years, drug companies have taken this approach, at least serendipitously, for decades. Viagra, originally developed as an angina treatment, is one of the most well-known examples. Today many groups are focused on identifying new indications for existing drugs including academic researchers; nonprofits such as Cures Within Reach; and government institutions including the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences in the United States and the UK Medical Research Council. Other drug repurposing research ventures include public-private partnerships like the Center for Drug Repurposing (operated jointly by Ariel University [Israel] and Drug Rediscovery Ltd) and the Drug Repurposing Hub (a collaboration between the Broad Institute Cancer Program, the Center for the Development of Therapeutics, and the Connectivity Map group); and companies such as Biovista, GVK Bio, and NuMedii. In 2012, it was estimated that drug repurposing, repositioning, and rescue (DRPx) efforts accounted for 30% of FDA-approved new drug products (1). In addition, in 2015, Biovista President and Co-founder Aris Persidis reported that these drugs accounted for approximately 25% of pharmaceutical industry revenues (2).

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ABC7 Eyewitness News

June 27, 2017


CHICAGO (WLS) -- Honors were handed out Tuesday night for those who have made a difference in the lives of rare disease patients. The organization Cures Within Reach held its annual Global Health Repurposing Awards ceremony. ABC7 Eyewitness News' Judy Hsu served as emcee.

ABC7 Eyewitness News

By Judy Hsu

June 27, 2017

A potential medical breakthrough happening in Chicago is literally saving limbs.

An experimental treatment for patients with chronic poor circulation, often brought on by heart disease or diabetes, is part of a new push for drug repurposing -- finding new cures with existing medicine.

Like millions of Americans, Curtis Richardson suffers from poor circulation in his legs.

"That can manifest as problems like pain when you walk, pain in your feet at night, ultimately wounds that won't heal," said Dr. George Havelka, assistant professor of surgery at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

For Richardson, walking became nearly impossible.

"Pain was so bad had me in tears sometimes," Richardson said.

His condition, up until now, had few medical options.

"The natural history of that is needing surgery or possibly even amputation," Havelka said.

However, Havelka and Dr. Darwin Eton, of the University of Illinois Hospital, are trying a new approach - a clinical study that involves no surgery and no hospital stay.

The treatment uses an existing drug for cancer patients that mobilizes the body's own stem cells and a standard compression device. Havelka said "hopefully helps those stem cells hone in to where the disease is at and allowing the patient to build up new circulation and improve the blood flow."

The breakthrough treatment took a decade of research, with promising results.

PILMAN- A Tapan Ray Website on Healthcare

April 17, 2017

By Tapan Ray

The prices of new cancer drugs are increasingly becoming unsustainable across the world, and more so in India. A sizable number of poor and even middle-income patients, who spend their entire life’s savings for the treatment of this dreaded disease, is pushed towards extreme economic hardship. Their plight in India would continue to remain so, till Universal Health Care (UHC) comes into force, as enunciated in the National Health Policy 2017.

Thus, the delivery of affordable and equitable cancer care poses one of India’s greatest public health challenges. Public expenditure on cancer in India remains below US$ 10 per person, as compared with more than US$ 100 per person in high-income countries. The May 2014 paper, published in ‘The Lancet Oncology’, analyzed this concern in detail.

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Laboratory Equipment

April 17, 2017

By Erin O'Neill

When scientists with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer started clinical trials in 1991 on a chemical compound named UK-92480, they aimed to show the drug’s potential therapeutic benefit for a cardiovascular condition caused by restricted blood flow to the heart muscle.
Less than two years later, hope that the compound, now better known as sildenafil, could treat angina began to fade.

But the drug wasn’t shelved. Rather, scientists began exploring whether one of the drug’s reported side effects—erections—could help men suffering from another condition.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1998 approved sildenafil, under the brand name Viagra, for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. In its first year on the market, sales of the little blue pill topped $1 billion.

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Pharmaceutical Patent Analyst

March 1, 2017

Dr. Bruce Bloom

There are a number of generic drugs that might be useful in treating tuberculosis, but will they ever get to the patients who need them? They might, but not without a lot of help. There are intellectual property issues, endpoint issues, cost of research issues, economic incentive issues, preclinical validation issues, “who is in charge” issues and many more. It is clear that repurposed generic drugs have the potential to make a safe, effective, quick and affordable impact on a global disease of poverty such as tuberculosis. But without the economic incentives that are usually in place for drug development, can we muster the scientific, economic and governmental support to bring them to the patients? 

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Driving Insights to Action

February 27, 2017

Drug repurposing and reformulation leverage already expended costs for compounds that failed to reach the market for one disorder, to develop reformulated or repurposed drugs for a different condition in less time and with less cost. How will repurposing disrupt the current market? Where are the stress points in delivering repurposed products to patients?

A special DIAmond panel discussion titled Drug Repurposing: Where Will It Take Us?, chaired by President and Chief Scientific Officer of Cures Within Reach Dr. Bruce Bloom, will explore this topic at our DIA 2017 Annual Meeting. “If you can repurpose a generic drug for some unmet medical need and you’re charging the same price for that drug as any other generic in use, you’re liable to be creating a good therapy at a very reasonable cost,” Dr. Bloom explains in this exclusive podcast. “If you’re able to do that, the net health care cost benefit is almost always significantly positive.”

Click here to listen to the podcast interview

iBIO Biological

January 30, 2017

By John Conrad

PACT Member Cures Within Reach Featured on WBEZ

This morning Chicago public radio, WBEZ, featured PACT member Bruce Bloom from Cures Within Reach on their “Your Health” Segment.

The segment started off discussing the antiparasitic drug mebendazole, and the current research being conducted at John’s Hopkins on the drugs effectiveness in animal models of aggressive brain tumors, including advanced gliomas and medulloblastomas.

This research project is one of the many projects funded by Cures Within Reach, a non-profit focused on improving patient quality and length of life by leveraging the speed, safety and cost-effectiveness of medical repurposing research, driving more treatments to more patients more quickly.

Dr. Bruce Bloom, the president and chief science officer, was interviewed as part of this segment and highlighted the potential of looking at old medicines to see if they have potential new uses.

Listen to the segment here

NPR's Morning Edition

January 30, 2017

By Allison Aubrey

One of the most effective and affordable anti-parasitic medicines is being researched for potential cancer-fighting properties. It's part of a movement to re-purpose existing drugs for new uses. Listen here!

The Scientist

January 1, 2017

By Anna Azvolinsky

An entire industry has sprung up around resurrecting failed drugs and recycling existing compounds for novel indications.

In 2010, Bruce Bloom, CEO of Illinois-based Cures Within Reach, reviewed the organization’s decade-long track record of bringing new treatments to patients. He found that the nonprofit had funded 190 novel drug projects, but “couldn’t find any instance where it was directly helping patients,” says Bloom. Cures Within Reach had also funded 10 different drug repurposing projects, seeking to test existing drugs for novel indications. Of the 10 projects, four generated enough evidence to give physicians confidence to treat patients off-label, which doctors can do at their discretion, particularly when there is no approved therapy for a condition or when a patient has exhausted all available treatment options.

“We then polled 200 researchers and clinicians, and 66 percent of researchers told us they had a [repurposing] project ready for investigation, and 25 percent of clinicians had clinical observations they wanted to test in a trial,” says Bloom. “This convinced us that there is a ton [of opportunities] out there for repurposing.”


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One Health of a Life: Deborah Collyar

September 27, 2016

Guest blog post by Dr. Bruce Bloom & Dr. Clare Thibodeaux

Due to popular demand, former blog guests Bruce Bloom, and Clare Thibodeaux from Cures Within Reach have returned with another post. This time, they explain how they bring researchers, older drugs, and new funders together to come up with new solutions for patients. Disclosure: I am a member of their Advisory Board, and think this concept is brilliant!

Ways to repurpose existing drugs, devices and nutraceuticals can offer powerful “new” treatments for diseases that desperately need them. A recent blog post (“How to Solve Diseases with Existing Drugs”) talked about the power of repurposing research. So why doesn’t more research with available drugs get done?


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