VIAD

VIAD

SIF 167 VIAD

Project Manager: Jayakrishna Ambati

Virginia Initiative for Accelerating Drugs (VIAD): The purpose of this award is to identify drug repurposing candidates through use of data analytics.

BoV Approved: Fall 2019

Project Dates: 11/01/2019 – 10/31/2022

Funding Awarded: $1,000,000

Executive Summary

Identifying new therapies for diseases that have no adequate treatments is among the great challenges facing modern medicine. The overwhelming majority of potential therapeutic compounds fail in the current “one drug – one target – one disease” testing paradigm. A promising complementary approach to drug development is finding new uses for existing medicines, known as drug repurposing. The mission of the proposed Virginia Initiative for Accelerating Drugs (VIAD), part of the University of Virginia, is to unleash the full spectrum of therapeutic activities of drugs by creating and implementing a paradigm-inverting Big Data archaeological approach to drug development that enables novel patentable entities, expedites repurposing, and launches unimaginable avenues of transdisciplinary collaborative scientific exploration. 

VIAD will support its mission by utilizing novel healthcare data analytics to identify drug repurposing candidates. This exciting effort will also support the development of a network of faculty and organizations across Grounds, including the School of Medicine and the Licensing & Ventures Group to advance the University’s educational mission. VIAD will attract preeminence to the University by establishing a new template for drug development in the 21st century to radically improve healthcare outcomes in the Commonwealth and beyond.

Current Status: Active

Progress

Identifying new therapies for diseases that have no adequate treatments is among the great challenges facing modern medicine. The overwhelming majority of potential therapeutic compounds fail in the current “one drug – one target – one disease” testing paradigm. A promising complementary approach to drug development is finding new uses for existing medicines, known as drug repurposing. The mission of the proposed Virginia Initiative for Accelerating Drugs (VIAD), part of the University of Virginia, is to unleash the full spectrum of therapeutic activities of drugs by creating and implementing a paradigm-inverting Big Data archaeological approach to drug development that enables novel patentable entities, expedites repurposing, and launches unimaginable avenues of transdisciplinary collaborative scientific exploration. 

VIAD utilizes novel healthcare data analytics to identify drug repurposing candidates from among FDA-approved drugs. The VIAD initiative has discovered multiple unexpected drug-disease associations that have already influenced the treatment of COVID-19 and also promise to impact the treatment of several other prevalent diseases. The VIAD approach produced the first report that there was no clinical benefit of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 and identified possible harm, months before the first randomized clinical trials arrived at the same conclusion. By analyzing and sharing accurate, timely, transparent and accessible data, the work of this team contributed to countless lives that were saved from serious adverse events and possibly death across the world. In addition, VIAD’s finding that anti-HIV drugs known as NRTIs reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes was published in the scientific journal Nature Communications. VIAD also provided the first evidence that NRTIs reduce the risk of a common eye disease called macular degeneration by publishing its findings in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Recently, VIAD published in PNAS the surprising finding that the anti-depressant fluoxetine (Prozac) also reduces the risk of macular degeneration, which causes blindness in millions of people worldwide. VIAD also identified protective effects of several FDA-approved drugs that reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or increase overall survival in patients with numerous solid cancers. The VIAD team expects to publish these exciting results in the coming year. In addition, VIAD has also galvanized the discovery of new biological pathways that have revealed unexpected biological insights into DNA synthesis and RNA recognition, which have been published in the scientific journals Science Advances and Science Immunology.