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Professor Gabor Tigyi Receives $2.39 Million Grant for Drug Discovery Research


Dr. Gabor Tigyi and his team CroppedGabor Tigyi, MD, PhD (back row, third from left) and his team.

The threat of a nuclear accident, like the one at Fukushima, or the explosion of a nuclear device necessitates the development of radiation countermeasures that are safe and effective when applied 24 hours or later after a radiation injury. There are no such FDA-approved countermeasures available today.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded $2,392,253 to a team led by Gabor Tigyi, MD, PhD, in the Department of Physiology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) for the development of radioprotective drug candidates. Jur Strobos, MD, JD, RxBio, Inc., is Tigyi’s co-investigator on the research study titled, “IND-Enabling Preclinical Development of a New Radiomitigator.”

In addition to Dr. Strobos, Professor Tigyi’s research team includes an academic-industry collaboration with Erzsbet Szabo, PhD, Andrea Balogh, PhD, both from the UTHSC Department of Physiology; Duane Miller, PhD, Renukadevi Patil, PhD, and Ryan Yates, PharmD, PhD, all from the UTHSC Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Fridtjof Thomas, PhD, from the UTHSC Department of Preventive Medicine; as well as W. Shannon McCool, DPh, Karin Thompson and Alyssa Boler, all from  RxBio, Inc. The team developed RP239, a novel small lead molecule that protects rodents from very high levels of radiation.

The goal of this project is the development of a new improved analog of RP239 for priority or fast-track regulatory approval and inclusion in the Strategic National Stockpile, the repository of medical equipment, antibiotics, vaccines, supplies and treatments available in case of national emergency. RP239 and its derivatives also offer other potential applications in diseases of the gastrointestinal system.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.