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Project Highlights

The Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation at the University of Kansas Medical Center leads projects that fast track medical innovations to patients. 

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Results suggest a promising, safe and effective, orally administered drug product for the treatment of obesity across the lifespan, i.e., in children, adolescents, adults and the elderly.

How it works: Cory Berkland, Ph.D., professor at the University of Kansas, is a serial entrepreneur, co-founding Orbis Biosciences, Savara Pharmaceuticals and Orion Biosciences, as well as co-developing several technologies with industry partners. In late 2012, IAMI invested in novel polymer technology discovered by Dr. Berkland with the intent of developing the technology for treatment in iron overload disorders. Within three months of investment, a completed preclinical study in a validated animal model of iron overload failed to demonstrate proof of principle. The empowered project team made a data driven decision to terminate the project based on pre-defined go/no go decision criteria.

Success story: Dr. Berkland subsequently identified obesity applications for the novel polymer technology in 2013. In response, IAMI reinvested in the platform technology in 2014, providing support to conduct in vivo preclinical proof of principle studies in validated obesity models. The polymer binds fat and is excreted in feces with minimal absorption, which suggests a safe drug product for the treatment of obesity.

The novelty of The Learning Collaborative (TLC) project is combining proven, credible and unique strengths, that when developed through the investment of public and private funds have the potential to accelerate the discovery and development of new drug therapies.

How it works: The Learning Collaborative (TLC) concept started as a partnership between the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), the National Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC) and the NIH TRND (Therapies for Rare and Neglected Diseases) programs within NIH, and The KU Institute for Advancing Innovation as part of The University of Kansas Cancer Center. Specifically, by entering the collaboration, each partner intends to develop a platform to discover new drug therapies for patients with emphasis on rare and neglected diseases. Through success, TLC has become a model for new initiatives within IAMI, specifically the Sarcoma Learning Collaborative.

Success story: Thus far, TLC partnership has advanced auranofin, an off-patent drug approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, to clinical evaluation for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). CLL is the most common type of leukemia and approximately 15,000 people in the United States receive a diagnosis of CLL each year.

The SLC has the potential make an impact on rare cancer diseases in children, through partnerships and innovation. We feel passionately that we have an innovative opportunity for drug repurposing that focuses on new treatment for sarcomas.

Vision and mission: Our vision for a sweeping sarcoma research at IAMI is to engage in a second cooperative research and development agreement with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases (TRND) program joined forces with IAMI to accelerate development of new drugs for rare and neglected diseases.

Partnership: Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City is also a partner in the SLC. Children's Mercy recently recruited a pediatric oncologist who specializes in sarcomas, complementing the clinical trials expertise of KU Cancer Center's Phase I Medical Oncologist. Children's Mercy is a member of the POETIC consortium, which focuses on pediatric cancer research for new discoveries that lead to pediatric clinical trials. This mission fits SLC and IAMI, which has a proven track record of drug development collaboration and local philanthropic fundraising between KU and Children's Mercy Hospital.

Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation