The prohibitive cost of placing a single new drug on the shelves, amounting to $1 billion, is prompting scientists to look at existing drugs to treat different infections, and an Indian-origin cancer specialist has taken an initiative towards this.
The technique could cut drug development costs and make new medicine available to patients faster, according to researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC), Washington.
Sivanesan Dakshanamurthy, assistant professor of oncology, clinical & experimental drug discovery programme, GUMC, and colleagues explain that drug companies must limit efforts to market new drugs because the process is so expensive, time-consuming and prone to failure, the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry reports.
Scientists long have known that drugs already approved for one disease might be effective for others.
However, existing methods to identify new uses for old drugs lack accuracy and have other disadvantages, according to a GUMC statement.
So, Dakshanamurthy's team developed a comprehensive new computer method called Train-Match-Fit-Streamline (TMFS) that uses 11 factors to quickly pair likely drugs and diseases.
They reported using TMFS to uncover evidence that Celebrex, the popular prescription medicine for pain and inflammation, has a chemical signature and architecture suggesting that it may work against a difficult-to-treat form of cancer.
Likewise, they found that a medicine for hookworm might be re-purposed to cut off the blood supply that enables many forms of cancer to grow and spread.
"We anticipate that expanding our TMFS method to the more than 27,000 clinically active agents available worldwide across all targets will be most useful in the repositioning of existing drugs for new therapeutic targets," Dakshanamurthy said.