The NDC unites drug discovery experts with scientists studying pathways leading to neurodegenerative diseases. By forming partnerships early in the discovery process, we aim to accelerate the timelines from discovery to clinical trial and to increase the number of innovative programs in development. We also find that these same pathways are activated in the cancer patient, thus we collaborate extensively within MD Anderson to explore the impact of these new therapies for oncology.
The NDC accelerates translating breakthrough findings from academic investigators into novel therapies. To accomplish this goal, we develop long-term relationships with scientific pioneers studying neurological diseases and facilitate their research by providing funding and drug discovery expertise.
Drug Discovery Neurodegeneration
The NDC is embedded in the Therapeutics Discovery Division at MD Anderson Cancer Center, a non-profit biotechnology and drug discovery center developing therapeutics for oncology and neurological disorders. Our capabilities include all aspects of target validation, assay development, high throughput screening, medicinal chemistry, drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics, and neuropharmacology. We maintain a pipeline of 10-14 projects at various stages of development in the areas of neuroprotection, neuroinflammation, tau, and genetic risk factors. Ultimately we aim to forge partnerships with clinical organizations with expertise in clinical development.
Successful therapies require tailoring the treatment to the patient. Adopting a precision medicine approach, the NDC is expanding its portfolio to discover new biomarkers that predict a patient’s response to a specific therapy. Each drug discovery program in the NDC aims for specific patient selection criteria and clinical response biomarkers to increase the odds of clinical trial success.
Drug Delivery System
The blood brain barrier (BBB) is a tremendous technical challenge for new therapies for brain disease. The NDC investigates new technologies to non-invasively improve drug delivery into the brain.
Several genetic risk factors for neurodegeneration are also dysregulated in microglia surrounding brain tumors. These commonalities suggest parallel biology underlies disease progression. The NDC leverages MD Anderson's expertise in brain cancer to discover connections between these two devastating diseases.
Many cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, damage the nervous system. This damage can become toxic. Toxicity can reduce the tolerability of life-saving treatments and significantly affect the quality of life of cancer survivors. The NDC has partnered with clinical oncology departments at MD Anderson Cancer Center to launch a clinical research program that will identify how the nervous system responds to neural damage, find biomarkers of emerging issues before becoming clinically significant, and characterize risk factors for poor outcomes. Through this effort, we will discover neuroprotective strategies for potential application to other neurological diseases.
"The scientific and translational expertise of NDC scientists has been critical as we aim to translate basic research findings into potential therapeutic strategies."
~ Jeannie Chin, Ph.D.