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2020 Awardees

Project: Naloxone-laden Polymer Nanoparticles for Oral Administration

  • PI: Dr. Shoshana Eitan
  • Department: Psychological & Brain Sciences, College of Liberal Arts
  • Project In Progress with expected completion October 2022

Project: Augmented Reality Powered Assembly

  • PI: Dr. Wei Yan
  • Department: Architecture, College of Architecture
  • Project Abstract: With BRICKxAR, physical assembly is guided by virtual parts. Marker-based virtual-physical model alignment was improved under the TIF project for higher flexibility. A software engineering workflow was developed from CAD modeling of the virtual assembly to instructing the physical assembly process step by step, for different platforms (iOS and Android). A new method and prototype of multiple 3D model-based AR registration achieved promising results, allowing BRICKxAR-3D to be significantly easier to use and enabling hand-held assembly.

Project: Zein-based nanoformulations for the treatment of IBD

  • PI: Dr. Srinath Palakurthi
  • Department: Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy
  • Project Abstract: Zein NP formulations of Cyclosporine A and Tofacitininb were prepared and the formulations were optimized for drug loading and stability. Different stabilizers, and pH values were tested to achieve high stability, easy re-dispersibility, high encapsulation efficiency, slow and sustained release, and preferential release in simulated intestinal fluid (SIF). Following oral administration (2 mg/kg p.o. for 5 days) to colitis mice, CsA levels in the colon were 9 fold higher in the mice treated with zein NP as compared to the marketed formulation, Neoral. Similarly, colon:serum ratio of drug concentration was also significantly higher with zein NP than Neoral (p<0.01). Further, improved weight loss, and colon length, colon:body weight, and decreased rectal bleeding, and liver:body weight, increased anti-inflammatory cytokine levels accompanied with decreased pro-inflammatory cytokines was observed in colon tissues compared with Neoral (p<0.01). Zein NP of tofacitinib were coated with three different stabilizers (polycaprolactone, PCL; Eudragit L-100 and Eudragit S-100) and their stability was tested at different pH. It appears that the NP form a stable hydrogel like structure in SGF and disintegrate into nanoparticles in SIF.

Project: Bepridil as a COVID-19 Therapeutics: A Rapid, Low-Cost Solution to the Current Pandemic

  • PI: Dr. Wenshe Liu
  • Department: Chemistry, College of Science
  • Project Abstract: The current COVID-19 pandemic is a global health emergency. As of April 26th, 2022, the total number of confirmed global COVID-19 cases is about 510 million, of which more than 6.2 million have succumbed to death. Multiple vaccines have been authorized. However, COVID-19 vaccines target the highly mutable membrane Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. The efficacy of vaccines against new viral strains such as delta and omicron variants has caused concerns. To overcome the threat posed by SARS-CoV-2 and its emerging variants of concern, it is paramount to make affordable and readily available prophylactic and therapeutic antivirals to combat COVID-19. Repurposing existing drugs offers the most rapid path to new, safe and low-cost treatments for COVID-19 because their safety and toxicity have been extensively studied. To this end, we launched the drug repurposing for COVID-19 project and identified a FDA/EMA-approved drug bepridil (trade name Vascor) as a potential COVID-19 therapeutics. Bepridil provided 100% protection from SARS-CoV-2 in African green monkey Vero E6 cells and human A549 cells at 5 μM and 6.25 μM, respectively. An international patent has been filed. The TIF fund is to support the preclinical demonstration of bepridil in treating COVID-19. This project aims to evaluate in vivo efficacy of bepridil in animal models to identify bepridil’s prophylactic and therapeutic activity against SARS-CoV-2. Since the detailed information on human pharmacology, toxicology and dosing of bepridil is known, the validation of the efficacy in animal models of SARS-CoV-2 will enable rapid clinical trials and regulatory review of bepridil for treating COVID-19. The success of the project will save people’s lives, curb the spread of the pandemic, and bring back our social and economic norm in the coming years. Sorrento Therapeutics has licensed the right of using bepridil as a COVID-19 antiviral from TAMU. It is negotiating with TAMU to provide a sponsored research grant to support further exploration of bepridil as a COVID-29 antiviral.
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