Mundra says research projects like his help teach pharmacy students about drug delivery science.
For the second year in a row, a Manchester University faculty member has claimed a national award that recognizes early-career researchers’ discoveries in the laboratory. The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) selected Dr. Vaibhav Mundra for a New Investigator Award—a $10,000 boost for his research to create a cutting-edge method to treat multiple myeloma.
Multiple myeloma is a rare disease in which cancer cells accumulate in the bone marrow, crowding out healthy blood cells. The cancer can damage bones, the immune system and red blood cell count. Multiple myeloma is the second-most common hematologic malignancy (cancers that affect the blood and lymph system) and accounts for almost 20 percent of deaths from that type of cancer.
Doctors currently use an anti-cancer drug to treat multiple myeloma, but the drug can’t distinguish between a cancer cell and a healthy cell. Therefore, the drug kills both the cancerous tissue and the healthy tissue, which leads to side effects; this restricts the amount of the drug doctors can give to the patient.
Mundra is designing a delivery system that causes two anti-cancer drugs to attack only the tumor, or cancerous cells. His method focuses on creating tiny “spheres” called micelles, which are 1,000 times smaller than a human cell. Mundra encloses two FDA-approved chemotherapy drugs inside the nano-sized micelles.
“Generally, our capillaries are continuous, and all drugs will cross through them,” says Mundra, an assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences. “But when you put [the drugs] in a nano-sized micelle, they cannot cross the normal capillaries, but they can cross the capillaries that are present in the tumor. By doing that, we selectively deliver the drug to the tumor, but not to the healthy tissues. That means you’re able to put more drug inside the body, and at the same time, reduce the side effects with the higher doses of these two drugs.”
Mundra says there are commercially available products that use nanotechnology to deliver anti-cancer drugs, but they’re designed for other cancers and only deliver one drug at a time, not a combination.
“[Our method is also unique because] we have a very selective system. Even if the micelles reach a healthy tissue, they will not release the drug inside the healthy tissues,” says Mundra. “Only inside the tumor will the drug come out of the micelles and show its cell-killing effect. Those two factors make this system unique, compared to other systems being tested in clinical trials.”
This is the second consecutive year that the small liberal arts school has earned an AACP New Investigator Award; Dr. Diane Calinski earned the grant last year for her research that focuses on the metabolism of synthetic drugs commonly referred to as “bath salts.”
“This is the second year in a row Manchester has received the grant in the drug delivery or pharmaceutical sciences areas, so it also opens avenues for investigators from the school [studying] different topics,” says Mundra. “It’s a small grant, so it helps me generate preliminary data to submit for future federal grants, which are bigger grants in terms of money.”
The grant generates added recognition for the growing pharmacy program at Manchester; in 2018, it was the first college in the U.S. to offer a dual degree in pharmacy and pharmacogenomics—a relatively new area in healthcare.
Mundra believes the award is a stepping stone for larger grants that could, ultimately, create a new treatment option for patients battling multiple myeloma and “move the field of drug delivery forward.”
Mundra describes the challenge related to traditional anti-cancer drugs that his method aims to overcome.
Mundra says Manchester is uniquely positioned for this type of research.
By J. Mark Howell President and Chief Executive Officer, Conexus Indiana
Indiana is the most manufacturing intensive state in the country and more than a third of the state’s GDP comes from the industry. The health and wellness of Indiana’s economy is dependent on the state’s manufacturing industry. But Hoosiers face a challenge: it is expected that nearly a quarter of the current manufacturing workforce will be of retirement age in the next 10 years and we lack the generational workforce to make up that gap.
Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel Corp. (NYSE: X) has updated the State of Indiana regarding its previously announced layoffs at the East Chicago Tin Mill. The company says 314, rather than 307, workers will be displaced when the mill is idled this fall.
Wisconsin-based Regal Beloit Corp. and the union representing workers have reached an agreement about the closing of a helicopter bearing factory in Valparaiso. According to our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana, the decision will cost between 160 to 170 workers their jobs.
Nearly 80 years since the first jeep rolled off the assembly line, and helped support American soldiers throughout World War II, it appears the trusted four-wheel-drive machine may be making a comeback in the U.S. military. South Bend-based AM General LLC has teamed up with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to build military-grade versions of the 2020 Jeep Gladiator pickup truck.
A Whitley County-based medical device maker has announced plans to expand its facility in Larwill which should mean new jobs. Red Star Contract Manufacturing Inc. says it will invest $1.6 million in real estate improvements and additional equipment and will create 18 new jobs by 2022.
The International Council of E-Commerce Consultants has honored Vincennes University faculty member Jaci Lederman with the Academic Instructor Circle of Excellence award. She is chair and associate professor of the Information Technology Department. Lederman won the distinction due to her commitment to cybersecurity education.