Scientists around the world are focusing on bringing new medicines to the market faster and cheaper. This is great news for people who rely on these drugs. Currently, in the United States, it can take 12 years for a medicine to go from the lab to being available in a person’s home. Therefore, scientists are looking for new paths allowing them to develop badly needed drugs at a quicker speed. They also hope to lower the cost.
What are Researchers Doing?
Chemists at the prestigious University of Texas at Arlington are trying to find ways to synthesize groups of chemical compounds using one pot eliminating the costly process of first separating individual compounds. Not only is the process designed to be faster, but the researchers think that the results will be more reliable. More than half of the drug compounds developed over the last 30 years were done by synthesis, so this research could easily bring new drugs to market faster.
Researchers working at the same institution have also developed a way to quantify water content in solid pharmaceutical drugs faster and cheaper. Scientist do this more than 130 million times each year when they are seeking approval of their drugs from the United States’ governmental Federal Drug Agency.
Researchers working at Western Washington University in Seattle, Washington, have found ways to isolate chemicals while letting the rest of the chemical reaction continue. Therefore, more than one drug can be made at the same time. In addition, this method uses less fuel making it a greener option.
Meanwhile, researchers working at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, are developing a single step process to synthesize cyclic depsipeptides needed in producing antibiotics and in antiretrovirals. The current process involves several steps that can be time consuming and expensive.
Bruce Bloom, CEO of Illinois-based Cures Within Reach, has been taking a different approach. He suggests that some drug compounds that have proven ineffective for their original purposes can be very effective in treating other diseases.
Bruce says his company then polled 200 researchers and clinicians. The company found that almost 132 of those researchers had an idea for a drug that they wanted to reposition. He said that 50 researchers told Cures Within Reach that they had clinical observations that they wanted to test in a trial.
“This convinced us that there is a ton [of opportunities] out there for repurposing… More and more, people are thinking of repurposing as a faster, cheaper, safer way to drive therapies to patients and as a method of creating a smarter way of new drug development.”
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia have discovered that Galantamine that was originally developed to help Alzheimer’s patients is highly effective at helping people stop smoking.
The University of California at San Francisco has developed a software program to help researchers find these connections more easily by letting them mine data from thousands of patients. These researchers are very active in helping companies bring orphaned drugs to the market for different purposes than originally intended.
The Federal Drug Administration has also been changing the way that they approve some drugs. In cases of promising drugs where there is no current drug approved, the government has been cutting down on the length of time required for clinical studies.
Bringing drugs to market has often involved a wait of over 12 years. Many researchers working in the United States are working to shorten that time. Some are creating new processes allowing chemical reactions to happen faster while others are allowing drugs or certain drug compounds that failed for their original purpose to come back to the market for a new reason.
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