UB Center for Protein Therapeutics awards $1 million for drug research

Projects aim to advance drugs that treat cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and more

Release Date: October 1, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The University at Buffalo Center for Protein Therapeutics has awarded more $1 million for research projects to advance the development of next-generation protein-based drugs that treat cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and other illnesses.

The Center for Protein Therapeutics conducts research and provides structured training programs for UB faculty studying protein-based drugs.

The center is a facility within the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, and is led by Joseph Balthasar, PhD, professor of pharmaceutical sciences and executive director of research initiatives in the UB Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

Since its inception in 2008, the Center for Protein Therapeutics has funded 128 seed projects totaling more than $12 million.

The round of projects funded for 2019-20 include:

  • Three awards to Balthasar, for projects that study strategies for targeted delivery of anti-cancer drugs, and the effects of endosomal-escape peptides on the movement of anti-cancer antibodies in the body.
  • Three awards to Dhaval Shah, PhD, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, for projects investigating the movement of protein-based drugs within the brain, novel technology to enhance the delivery of targeted drugs inside cancer cells, and the effect of protein charge on the disposition of antibodies.
  • Two awards to Marilyn Morris, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, for projects examining the effects of the protein FcRn on the recycling of proteins in the liver, and the transport of antibodies across the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier.
  • An award to Sathy Balu-Iyer, PhD, professor of pharmaceutical sciences, to investigate approaches for the oral delivery of colon targeting macromolecules to improve conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease.
  • An award to Jun Qu, PhD, professor of pharmaceutical sciences, to develop a 3D-printed micro-scaffold for tissue compartmentalization, micro-sampling, and measuring the distribution of protein-based drugs and biomarkers.
  • An award to Donald Mager, PharmD, PhD, professor and vice chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, to study the effects of how the protein IL-12 protects T-cells — which hunt and destroy infections and cancers — from losing their function after their adoptive transfer to treat melanoma.

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