Texas Tech pharmacist receives patent for repurposing antipsychotic drug to treat cancer

A Texas Tech University Health Science Center pharmacist has received a patent for repurposing antipsychotic drugs to treat cancers.
Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 3:03 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 29, 2022 at 3:04 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - A Texas Tech University Health Science Center pharmacist has received a patent for repurposing antipsychotic drugs to treat cancers.

“If we find a new purpose for these drugs in different disease models, we can fast track the process and take the drugs to the patients much faster,” said Sanjay Srivastava Ph.D, chairman for the Department of Immunotherapeutics and Biotechnology at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy.

Srivastava has spent the last decade on research that has focused on investigating non-cancer drugs which can be repurposed to treat various cancers.

Through those efforts Srivastava earned a U.S. patent for repurposing pimavanserin to treat various types of cancer who said the patent, titled “Compositions and Methods for Treating Cancer,” covers all applications of the drug in that field.

“We can cover all the variants with this patent,” he said. “If we change the structure of this compound, that is covered (by the patent), and if we make any formulation, that also is covered. If anybody wants to use pimavanserin as a cancer therapy, our patent would have to be considered as part of that drug development process because basically, all of the different aspects associated with this drug are covered by this patent.”

Srivastava said the main hurdle to treating brain tumors is finding an effective drug that can pass through the blood-brain barrier.

“The blood-brain barrier is a good thing, but the flip side is that some drugs cannot cross the barrier and are then ineffective,” he said.

Several years into their study, Sharavan Ramachandran, Ph.D., one of Srivastava’s former graduate students, found that pimavanserin, a new drug at that time, suppressed the growth of some cancer cells, including pancreatic cancer cells.

His investigation eventually found that pimavanserin has the ability to suppress the growth of various other cancer cells, including those associated with pancreatic and brain tumors.

Taking the investigation to the next level, tumors were planted into mice and then treated the mice with pimavanserin.

The results were the drug reduced the growth of brain tumors in the animal models.

“We immediately filed a patent for its application in cancer because nobody had ever shown the anti-cancer effect of pimavanserin; it was only being used for Parkinson’s disease psychosis,” said Srivastava.

Srivastava and his team are looking for clinical partners who would like to conduct a ‘window-of-opportunity’ trial with pimavanserin for a short time period in patients who are waiting for surgery or receiving other therapies.

“We have shown in our research that pimavanserin can potentiate or enhance the effect of temozolomide by inhibiting certain proteins that are responsible for causing resistance to temozolomide in cases of glioblastoma,” he said.

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