Thinking outside the cell  pg. 2

Hudson answered Fox’s challenge with the compound pyridoxamine (brand name Pyridorin), a vitamin B6 derivative. Both in vitro studies and animal models showed that pyridoxamine prevented the glycation-related pathology that contributes to diabetic kidney disease.

Phase II clinical trials, completed in 2004, showed that Pyridorin was safe and effectively slowed the progression to kidney failure. Phase III trials were set to begin in 2005.

From this unconventional thinking, a new approach to drug development was born, bringing together academic researchers and the biotech industry to chase down the next generation of pharmaceutics.

In contrast with pharmaceutical companies taking over drug development, this approach allows universities to continue to participate in the drug discovery and development process and to reap some of the financial benefits: the university and researcher can maintain the patent on a therapy and license its use.

Fox has gone on to become president and CEO of another biotechnology company, NephroGenex Inc., which was co-founded by Hudson. In Hudson’s case, the foray into biotech has had a beneficial impact on his more basic research interests as well.

“I now have two additional grants based on that drug (Pyridorin) to explore basic mechanisms—not to develop a drug—and others have been awarded NIH grants to explore the actions of Pyridorin,” Hudson said. “So there is a positive feedback into basic science that can come from this approach.”

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