Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Center

Finding a pathway for recovery

The prevalence and societal impact of substance use disorders (SUDs) is an acknowledged public health crisis.

While an imperfect measure of its impact on society, opioid overdose deaths can be viewed as the leading edge of this crisis. In a 12-month period, ending April 2019, it was estimated that 67,123 Americans died from an opioid overdose. While multiple medications are now available to treat opioid use disorders, given the prevalence and societal burden, additional well-tolerated and effective therapies are needed.

The PBC is developing monoclonal antibody (mAb)-based passive immunotherapies. This approach is based on complexing a drug of abuse in the periphery, thereby preventing it from reaching the central nervous system. This approach offers a high degree of specificity to drug abuse, can be administered in quantities to sustain amounts required for clinical efficacy in all patients and does not interfere with an individual’s ability to use any of the medications currently used to treat SUDs.

2019 highlights

Vidadi Yusibov, PhD, is leading the Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Center as it focuses on translational research and the development of antibodies and proteins for public health and biopreparedness.

  • Established capabilities for antibodies, lead discovery and optimization

  • Identified antibody hits with potential therapeutic effects

  • Initiated multiple collaborations and programs for treatment of substance use disorders

Profile and growth

In 2019, the Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Center (PBC) finished building laboratory infrastructure, established critical workflows, assembled a talented team of scientists and initiated core program activities. As a translational research organization, the PBC is organized into two well-equipped functional groups:

  • Target and Therapeutic Discovery — focused on molecular biology, including all aspects of gene design and vector construction.
  • Protein Optimization and Developability Assessment — focused on the expression, characterization and optimization of the target molecule as it matures into a clinical product.

“The PBC is developing monoclonal antibody-based passive immunotherapies that do not interfere with an individual’s ability to use any of the medications currently used to treat SUDs.”

—Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Center Research Program Director Vidadi Yusibov, PhD

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