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Purposeful repurposing

Drug repurposing is seen to be a major growth area in the drug development field because it trades the unsolved problem of attrition for the seemingly solvable problem of finding a new use for an old, already-approved drug. But maybe that’s not an easier problem?! A recent news article in Nature waded through the pros and cons of repurposing (also called drug repositioning), beginning with the well-known home runs Viagra (for erectile dysfunction but originally a heart drug) and AZT (for HIV but originally a cancer drug).

The greatest benefit is skipping the Phase I trial of the drug, since the drug has already been through the process, one that can. take several years and cost several million dollars.. In addition, anything in Phase II usually qualifies for mezzanine funding or Series A or B investment.

However, as the article points out, it’s still going to be necessary for the drug to go through Phase II and III trials for approval for any new indications. These are much more expensive and prolonged efforts in drug development, so the overall process is not dramatically shorter or less expensive than the traditional route. In addition, the promise of quicker and more frequent approval has only marginally borne out to date, so it isn’t as if there is a huge reduction in risk either.

Nevertheless, the author notes that certain cutting-edge, emerging technologies, such as high-throughput screens and computational methods, can be harnessed for repurposing, improving success rates–and becoming game changers in the field.. At GeneCentrix, we’re betting on a uniquely powerful tissue specific drug profiler that reveals overlooked drug bioactivities that unlock exciting new uses for old drugs.

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