To complement longstanding ADDA efforts, the CCTS Partner Network experimented with a new assay development model for investigator-initiated projects earlier in the pipeline. This special competition sought concepts that could make substantial leaps in a short amount of time with a meaningful investment of support. Through the CCTS Therapeutic Advancement Initiative (TAI), proposals were invited in December 2019 to develop and/or refine an experimental platform – model, reagent, assay, etc. – needed to accelerate the progression of promising therapeutics along the translational pipeline towards clinical applications and ultimately health impact.

The CCTS congratulates the accomplishments of the following awardees:

Principal Investigator/Institution  
Project Title Accomplishments
Yuping Bao, PhD, Univ. Alabama (Tuscaloosa) Drug screening nanoplatform for ion-gated channel receptors Evaluated a drug screening platform based on cell membrane coated iron oxide superparticles, established analytic protocols and tested known ion channel binders (blockers & activators) on voltage gated sodium ion channel, Nav1.5. Also established the patch clamp testing platform for ion channel activity evaluation (2)

Mark Gillespie, PhD, Univ. South Alabama Production of Mitochondrial (mt)-targeted DNA Repair Proteins Developed protein production and purification methods. Successfully produced hundreds of milligrams of mitochondrially-targeted recombinant DNA repair fusion protein constructs that have been tested in intact porcine models of multiple organ dysfunction and kidney transplant and in human cultured cell populations

Adam Keeton, PhD, Univ. South Alabama Development of human organoid models of colon cancer for therapeutic evaluation of a novel highly potent and selective Ras inhibitor, MCI-062 Procured a collection of organoids and developed an informatics workflow to implement advanced 3D culture methods to assess anticancer activity of MCI-062 and novel analogs
Sadis Matalon, PhD, Univ. Alabama at Birmingham Hemopexin mitigates acute and chronic lung injury in toxic gas inhalation Demonstrated the effectiveness of hemopexin to reverse pulmonary edema following acute lung injury resulting from cell free heme

Summer Thyme, PhD, Univ. Alabama at Birmingham High-Throughput Imaging-Based Screens for Drugs that Correct Neurodevelopmental Abnormalities Optimized aspects of zebrafish behavioral and brain imaging screening platform and computational workflows to advance patient-driven, genetics-based therapeutic development (3)

Qin Wang, MD, PhD, Univ. Alabama at Birmingham Identification of specific α2AAR signaling blockers for Alzheimer’s disease treatment Determined β-arrestin-dependent, pathological effect of GSK3β activation using Eurofins DiscoverX pre-engineered cell lines & assay kits and confirmed pharmacological properties of known α2AAR antagonists to advance HTS for novel compounds