The CCTS has a number of signature programs that make us unique. Several that we would like to highlight include our unique relationship with the Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance (ADDA), our participation in the Undiagnosed Diseases Program (UDP), and our development of the Translational Investigator Exchange Services (TIES).
Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance (ADDA)The partnership between the CCTS Drug Discovery and Development Program and Southern Research (a not-for-profit Partner which has a very productive, internationally-recognized track record in drug discovery and development) was instrumental in solidifying the establishment of the ADDA in October 2008. The ADDA is enhanced by relationships with the CCTS, Southern Research, the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and the UAB School of Medicine. The ADDA facilitates drug discovery and development, using the resources of these groups - including molecular target identification, high throughput screening, three dimensional structure of targets, iterative medicinal chemistry advanced with in silico screening, preclinical toxicology, and ADME.
The CCTS Drug Discovery and Development Program awards funds for any aspect of drug discovery and development for human disease. Applicants may apply for $50,000 in direct costs per year for up to 2 years. For assay development projects, these funds cover costs incurred at UAB; Southern Research funds the actual screen and potential downstream medicinal chemistry efforts. For this reason, compound progression pathways need to be in place, along with secondary and tertiary assays. All awardees receive assistance from a specially designed project team that meets quarterly to discuss issues regarding the science of the project, but also the intellectual property and financial status. An agreement between the UAB Research Foundation and Southern Research is in place to facilitate easy transfer of materials and ideas.
As of 2013, there have been 27 projects funded. Of these, 18 remain active and 7 have been terminated or paused. Of the 27, 20 are/were related to high-throughput screening and 10 have been screened (5 are evaluating hits, 2 have advanced to medicinal chemistry, and 3 did not warrant continuation). Projects have resulted in 5 extramural grant awards, 5 IP disclosures, 3 provisional and 1 converted patent application, and 1 patent.
An example of what has been achieved by the ADDA/CCTS partnership is a project spearheaded by Dr. Andrew B. West, who is looking for inhibitors of the enzyme LRRK2 to treat Parkinson’s disease. The project was started in 2009 at the stage of assay development and is now in the lead optimization stage with hundreds of chemical compounds being evaluated for potency, selectivity, brain penetration and metabolic stability, among others.