Clinical repurposing trials for COVID-19 and cerebral palsy underway in Chicago; trials at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab demonstrate Chicago's continued biomedical strength

Trials at U of Chicago, Northwestern, and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab demonstrate Chicago's continued biomedical strength

  • Dr. Richard Lieber, chief scientific officer for Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

    Dr. Richard Lieber, chief scientific officer for Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

 
Submitted by Barbara Goodman
Updated 9/29/2020 4:21 PM

Dr. Richard Lieber, chief scientific officer for Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and his project for cerebral palsy, won Cures Within Reach's CureAccelerator Live! for Chicago virtual philanthropic pitch event on Sept. 15.

Cures Within Reach and its funding partner the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust also recently approved funding for two COVID-19 clinical trials in the Chicago area, one based at Northwestern University looking to reduce symptom progression in newly diagnosed patients using fluvoxamine, and the other at the University of Chicago focusing on health disparities: reducing the number of newly diagnosed patients in Black and Latinx communities through vitamin D supplementation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Cures Within Reach, a leading global nonprofit focused on improving patient quality and length of life by leveraging the speed, safety and cost-effectiveness of medical repurposing research, organized CureAccelerator Live!, where four finalists from research institutions across the Chicago area pitched their clinical repurposing projects, and attendees helped to select the winner of a $50,000 research grant.

Dr. Lieber's winning project, "Repurposing a blood cancer treatment to treat muscle contractures in cerebral palsy patients," may lead to a new paradigm for nonsurgical treatment of muscle contracture by "biologically enabling" muscles with a cancer treatment, which is available as a generic.

"Congratulations to Richard Lieber, Ph.D. of Shirley Ryan AbilityLab for his exemplary approach to putting innovation into practice and winning CureAccelerator Live!," said Karie Thomson, Searle Consultant to the Chicago Community Trust. "Cures Within Reach is a crucial partner in fostering innovation here in Chicago. Because of their work, absolutely vital breakthroughs can happen. There is no more important example of this than the upcoming clinical trials of COVID-19 treatments at Northwestern and the University of Chicago. Supporting research talent here makes such rapid responses possible."

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"The randomized trial we will launch with the support of Cures Within Reach is urgently needed to understand whether vitamin D can reduce the risk and severity of COVID-19," said David Meltzer, M.D., Ph.D., chief of hospital medicine at University of Chicago Medicine and lead researcher of the COVID-19 trial funded by Cures Within Reach. "Their rapid support of this project and thoughtful partnership has already been invaluable in bringing us closer to the answers we need."

"We are thrilled to fund these three Chicago-based clinical repurposing trials, in partnership with the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust," said Barbara Goodman, Cures Within Reach's president and CEO. "Together, these demonstrate our region's capabilities to impact patients with the speed and cost-effectiveness that repurposing provides, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and for families impacted by cerebral palsy -- who are also in crisis-mode looking for treatments to unsolved diseases."

In addition to Dr. Lieber's project, the other finalists included:

Sadiya Khan, M.D., Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Sadiya Khan, M.D., Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

• Sadiya Khan, M.D. from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine presenting "Combining three diuretic drugs for heart failure patients."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Testing the efficacy and safety of combining low doses of three drugs -- bumetanide, eplerenone and dapagliflozin -- into a single pill in a pilot trial of 60 heart failure patients at high risk of hospitalization.

Andre Lindsey, Ph.D., Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital
Andre Lindsey, Ph.D., Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital

• Andre Lindsey, Ph.D. from Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital presenting "Using EEG as a tool to better assess recovery following brain injury."

Combining electroencephalogram (EEG) with auditory stimuli to develop a repurposed diagnostic to evaluate treatment efficacy for 3-5 patients with severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and in 15 healthy control patients.

Margaret Liotta, D.O., Loyola University Medical Center
Margaret Liotta, D.O., Loyola University Medical Center

• Margaret Liotta, D.O. from Loyola University Medical Center presenting "Repurposing a blood pressure drug for the treatment of recurrent chemo resistant ovarian cancer."

Investigating the safety and efficacy of the oral formulation of minoxidil, approved for hypertension, in treating up to 31 patients with recurrent ovarian cancer that is resistant to platinum-based chemotherapy.

Expert panelists from industry, clinical health care, academia and regulatory helped attendees make a more informed voting decision, and included representatives from Advocate Health Care, RoundTable Healthcare Partners, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the U.S. FDA and the University of Chicago.

In addition to the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, support comes from other members of Cures Within Reach's Chicago Repurposing Community, including Brand Institute, Fujifilm Pharmaceuticals, Golan Christie Taglia LLP, Horizon Therapeutics, Judy Hirsch Foundation, PhRMA, Recordati Rare Diseases, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, TerSera Therapeutics and the Walder Foundation.

About Cures Within Reach

Cures Within Reach (CWR) is a U.S.-based philanthropic leader that improves 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. It catalyzes research to facilitate and validate repurposing opportunities that create clinical impact. Through repurposing, it drives both market impact and health savings to patients and patient groups, from academia/researchers, with payers and the health care industry and with support from the government, philanthropy and others.

Cures Within Reach currently has a global portfolio of 20 repurposing research projects at 17 institutions in 15 diseases. Visit cureswithinreach.org or follow twitter.com/CuresWReach, linkedin.com/company/cures-within-reach, youtube.com/cureswithinreach or www.facebook.com/CuresWithinReach.

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