The Next Generation of Therapeutics
The OVCR is excited to announce the launch of AdvanTx, a centralized resource to support development of therapeutic-related research and commercialization projects.
Alzheimer's disease. Leukemias. COVID-19. UNC researchers are actively engaged in research projects to develop therapeutics for these diseases. While universities are key to the drug discovery pipeline, the scientists employed at them may not know how to move their discoveries from the lab to the marketplace. Enter the UNC Advance Therapeutics Initiative (AdvanTx), a centralized resource for faculty to engage to develop therapeutic-related research and development projects.
AdvanTx's creators — Joyce Tan, OVCR associate vice chancellor for research; Michael Kline, director of outreach and technology development in the Office of Technology Commercialization; and Jon Collins, lead scientist of Pinnacle Hill in OVCR — have spent several years working with faculty to support the advancement of therapeutics research projects across campus.
"We found that a missing element in these activities is a central coordinating resource at the university that provides faculty with scientific drug discovery and development guidance, support with navigating university and external resources, and help with defining a commercialization strategy," Tan says.
Collins, Tan, and Kline aim to fill this gap through a program that pulls together a team of experts with industrial experience in drug discovery and development at UNC and administrative staff to help faculty navigate the scientific and administrative process.
The AdvanTx team wants to find researchers working with proteins and genes — like phospholipase C, the focus of John Sondek's lab. A professor in the UNC School of Medicine's Department of Pharmacology, Sondek believes phospholipase C could be useful in treating patients with leukemia or neurodegenerative diseases.
"In this case, there is a specific protein, the physiological function of the protein is known, and John has ideas on how to target the protein for therapeutics discovery," says Collins, who adds that this is exactly the type of project that AdvanTx seeks.
Research investigators are highly encouraged to contribute their therapeutic target(s) or gene concepts, discoveries, or ongoing programs — independent of the stage of development — by completing a brief one-page questionnaire. Information on the initiative, along with submission instructions, can be found on the OVCR's AdvanTx: UNC Advance Therapeutics Initiative portal.