May 7, 2008    #037
Contact: John Austin

Drug targeting and delivery is focus of UMKC School of Pharmacy research Ashim K. Mitra receives multi-million dollar NIH funding to continue studies

Ashim K. Mitra, Ph.D., has received more than $5.5 million in grant money from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue work on three separate studies. Dr. Mitra is University of Missouri Curators’ Professor of Pharmacy, chairman, Pharmaceutical Sciences and vice-provost for Interdisciplinary Research at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Pharmacy (SOP). His current research interests are focused on two main areas¬: delivery and targeting of antiviral agents and development of noninvasive delivery systems for peptide and protein drugs.

“Dr. Mitra is a pioneer in identifying new approaches to assure that drugs reach their intended site of action in the body,” said Robert W. Piepho, Ph.D., F.C.P., dean of the School of Pharmacy. “His research has been a primary factor in our Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences being recognized nationally for the caliber of our graduate research programs.”

In one study, “Ocular Disposition of Antimicrobial Agents,” Dr. Mitra’s research group has pioneered the use of a novel microdialysis technique to study the absorption of antiviral, antitumor and other anti-infective agents in the eye. They have also developed new techniques to implant multiple probes into both anterior and posterior chambers of the eye simultaneously, so that drug levels can be tracked as the drugs are absorbed. Existing drug molecules that are not absorbed into the eye efficiently are being modified to facilitate better, and more rapid and prolonged therapeutic response.

Another study, “Protease Inhibitor Analogues for Enhanced Transport Across Blood-Brain Interfaces,” is focused on getting drugs that useful for treatment of HIV into the brain. Mitra and his research team are investigating the use of substances that are naturally found in the cell membranes of the body to deliver drugs to intracellular targets in the central nervous system. This will allow the drugs to kill the HIV virus in the brain cells.

Finally, Mitra and his colleagues are exploring “Transscleral Transport and Polymeric Delivery of Steroids for Macular Edema.” In this study, the researchers are looking to develop novel mechanisms that will allow drugs to pass through the layers of the eye and provide non-invasive therapy for diabetic macular edema and age-related macular degeneration. These conditions are caused by the leaking of fluid from retinal blood vessels, and subsequent swelling of the macula, the area of the retina responsible for central vision.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Celebrating 75 years, UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health sciences, and urban engagement.

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