Drug Design Consortium
Nature has provided many compounds to treat illness, including penicillin, insulin and taxol. However, the highly potent and specific treatments provided by modern drug therapy require new drug molecules not known to be provided by nature. Prozac, AZT and morphine are examples of drugs designed and synthesized in the lab that revolutionized medical treatment. Drug design activities at CD4 focus on developing novel therapies for AIDS, malaria, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, hypertension and several viral and bacterial infections.
AIDS victims in developed nations have good chances of survival today because of the success of rational drug design that yielded the protease inhibitors used in the famous triple cocktail. CD4 faculty have been actively studying protease inhibitors for many years and contributed to their use to treat AIDS. However, this class of compounds can provide novel drugs for a broad variety of diseases by selectively preventing destruction of certain proteins. We are developing new protease inhibitors as novel drugs against cancer, stroke, emphysema and other diseases.
CD4 also has significant activities in the design and synthesis of anti-viral and anti-parasitic drugs. We are creating new molecules belonging to a class of compounds called nucleosides and directing them against malaria and hepatitis B. These nucleosides can be selectively taken into infected cells and kill the infecting organism without harming the patient's cells.
Another approach being studied at CD4 involves developing novel therapies that control genes, especially those involved in cancer. Some gene therapy compounds we have designed bind to specific locations on DNA molecules found only in cancer cells and thereby may selectively kill tumors. Other molecules have been designed as switches that can turn on and off production of therapeutic proteins by cells.