Drug Repurposing Saves Time, Money & Lives


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – It takes an average of 10 to 12 years and billions of dollars for a new drug to become FDA-approved. But what if that time and money could be much less? See how doctors are finding new ways to use old drugs.

Cancer, dementia, Parkinson’s – doctors are in a race against time to find new drugs to cure incurable diseases. But what if that time could be cut?

Divisional Chief of Pain Medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, David A. Edwards, MD, PhD, says, “There are many medications that have already been developed and people are using for other indications and other diagnoses, that could be helpful in other diseases, as well.”

(Read Full Interview)

Dr. Edwards’ current repurposing study utilizes a database of 300,000 patients’ DNA sequences to uncover genetics and disease links.

“We don’t know who the patients are, but we know what their diseases were. So, we link the changes in their DNA to the type of diseases that they have,” Dr. Edwards explains.

These DNA links go through specialized software that suggests selected repurposed drugs.

Dr. Edwards further explains, “So, once we know what medications might act on those persons’ disease, then we design a trial with that new medication.”

They did this with guanfacine, a drug used for ADHD and blood pressure, and lidocaine, a topical numbing agent.

“At the end of the study, do we see that the hypothesis was correct? Did the patients who took the medication have pain relief that lasted longer?,” adds Dr. Edwards.

Patients on just lidocaine get two hours of pain relief. If patients obtain longer pain relief, then guanfacine could be an effective treatment for trigeminal nerve pain. Vanderbilt’s drug repurposing program has tested a dozen other medications.

Dr. Edwards expresses, “It’s really rewarding if you can bring something new to a patient that’s suffered so long, especially in the field of pain.”

Dr. Edwards says the final step is drug delivery testing via injections, oral use, or nasal sprays. Each study is double-blinded, so no patients realize whether they got just the original drug, lidocaine, or an additional medication.

Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Producer; Ally Stratis, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer & Editor.

To receive a free weekly e-mail on medical breakthroughs from Ivanhoe, sign up at: http://www.ivanhoe.com/ftk




REPORT:        MB #5299 

BACKGROUND: The average cost for the Food and Drug Administration to approve a new drug is over a billion dollars and 10 to 12 years of research. Drug repurposing is a strategic approach in pharmaceutical research and development. It involves finding new therapeutic uses for existing drugs. This process can revolutionize medicine, accelerate drug development, and offer novel treatment options for a wide range of medical conditions. Instead of starting from scratch developing a new drug, researchers focus on existing compounds that have already undergone safety and toxicity testing. This approach can significantly reduce the time and cost associated with traditional drug development.




DIAGNOSING: Diagnosing incurable diseases is a challenging and emotionally taxing process for both patients and healthcare providers. These diseases, often referred to as chronic or progressive conditions, currently have no known cure. However, early diagnosis remains a critical aspect of managing these diseases effectively. The diagnostic journey often includes a clinical evaluation by healthcare professionals that involves assessing a detailed medical history, performing physical evaluations, and discussing symptoms with patients. Various diagnostic tests such as MRIs, CT scans, and genetic testing may also be conducted to confirm a diagnosis and the disease severity.

(Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infectious-diseases/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351179

NEW TECHNOLOGY: AI in drug discovery is helping scientists better discover and understand the mechanisms behind particular diseases and how they can be linked to each other. Also, new approaches involving two-stage predictions and machine learning for drug repurposing are now being administered. Diseases are clustered by gene expression on the premise that similar patterns of altered gene expression imply pathways to other related diseases. Afterward, drug efficiency is tested. This new approach to drug repurposing allows experts to see unsupervised unclustering of gene expression.





Craig Boerner


If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for David A. Edwards, MD, PhD, Divisional Chief of Medicine

Read the entire Q&A