Drug Development Institute

Pelotonia Funds Translating OSUCCC – James Discoveries Into New Cancer Treatments

The Drug Development Institute (DDI) at Ohio State is a biotech-like institute embedded in the OSUCCC – James. Its mission is to identify promising anticancer agents discovered by OSUCCC – James researchers and advance them through the pharmaceutical development process for potential partnering with industry to deliver new therapies to patients.

The DDI was founded in 2010 by OSUCCC Director and James CEO Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, and Timothy Wright, a former executive of several pharmaceutical companies and chair of the DDI External Advisory Board.

It was founded to address the developmental gap that exists between discoveries made in the academic lab and the conversion of those discoveries to new therapies in patients. The DDI utilizes its extensive industry drug-development experience to substantially reduce the risks, time delays and costs of advancing basic research breakthroughs into treatments.

This de-risking approach is done in partnership with Ohio State research teams and places strong emphasis on multidisciplinary collaboration. By bringing an industry-focused perspective to investment and management decisions, the DDI ensures that research programs have a high likelihood of success.

Here are examples of OSUCCC – James anticancer agents currently in development by the DDI with support from Pelotonia funds.

Activated B-Cells for Cancer Immunotherapy

OSUCCC – James researchers have developed an anticancer vaccine that uses B lymphocytes, or B cells— the type of immune cells best known for fighting infections by releasing antibodies. B cells in this new vaccine are used to fight cancer by boosting the patient’s immune system.

Having shown that these B cells can attack tumors and dramatically decrease their size, the researchers next want to establish that the B cells promote the rejection of established tumors and tumors that generate a poor immune response. They believe that their approach can overcome the limitations of related immune therapies currently on the market or in clinical trials testing.

A Novel MRI Imaging Agent

A practical and safe method for expanding the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to visualize tumors a quarter-inch or smaller in size would greatly help doctors detect cancer earlier.

OSUCCC – James researchers are developing a technology that uses submicroscopic particles that assemble themselves into larger molecules in the acidic conditions around a tumor. There, the molecules enlarge 20 to 100 times their size and self-assemble into tiny fibers that remain in the tissue surrounding the tumor.

Attaching a label to the molecules would make them a cancer-targeted MRI-imaging agent. The technology might work with a broad range of cancers and could be particularly useful for detecting small, early lung cancers. The same technology might also work for delivering drugs or radiotherapy to tumors.

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