Southern Research Awarded Grant to Develop Novel Antidotes for Arsenical Poisoning

April 11, 2024

Project Aims to Deliver Safer and More Effective Treatments for Cutaneous Injuries

Southern Research is pleased to announce the award of a UG3/UH3 grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This prestigious grant will support the development of novel small molecule inhibitors as anti-inflammatory agents and antidotes for arsenical poisoning.

Arsenicals are toxic compounds historically used in medicine and agriculture. Despite being banned in many countries, accidental and intentional exposure to arsenicals remains a significant health concern. Current treatments for arsenical poisoning are often ineffective and can cause harmful side effects.

Southern Research Taking on the Challenge

This research project, led by Dr. Corinne Augelli-Szafran, VP of Scientific Platforms at Southern Research in collaboration with Dr. Mohammed Athar at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, aims to address this critical need by developing a new class of antidotes. The project focuses on creating hybrid inhibitors targeting specific cellular pathways involved in arsenical-induced inflammation. These pathways include:

  • BRD4: Bromodomain-containing protein 4, which plays a role in inflammatory gene expression.
  • RIPK3: Receptor-interacting protein kinase 3, a key regulator of cell death and inflammation.
  • IL6: Interleukin-6, a pro-inflammatory cytokine.

A Multi-Phased Approach

The research team will utilize a comprehensive approach, combining:

  • Molecular modeling: To design and optimize novel small molecule inhibitors.
  • In vitro studies: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of the candidate inhibitors in cell culture models.
  • In vivo studies: To assess the effectiveness of the most promising candidates in animal models.

A Preclinical Candidate for Treatment

The ultimate goal of this project is to identify a preclinical candidate for treating the cutaneous (skin) injuries associated with arsenical poisoning. This candidate will pave the way for further development and clinical trials, leading to the creation of safer and more effective antidotes for patients suffering from arsenical exposure.

Southern Research’s Commitment to Public Health

“We are honored to receive this grant from NIAMS,” said Dr. Corinne Augelli-Szafran, VP of Scientific Platforms. “This funding will allow us to advance our research on novel antidotes for arsenical poisoning. We are committed to developing solutions that improve public health and patient outcomes.”