Oklahoma City, OK – Two researchers at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) have been awarded grants by the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST). Dr. William A. Sibley, president of OCAST, presented OMRF with a certificate of achievement to recognize OMRF’s success in receiving OCAST grants. Dr. Morris Reichlin, Vice President of Research at OMRF, accepted the certificate.
Allen Edmundson, Ph.D. and head of the Crystallography program, was awarded $300,000 for his project, “Optimizing Humanized Antibodies to Treat MS and Lymphoma.” Dr. Tahereh Tabatabaie’s award of $84,900 will focus on the “COX-2 Inhibitor and Diabetes Prevention.” The grants were both part of the Oklahoma Applied Research Support (OARS) program, which was implemented to expedite the development of technology with commercial potential.
Dr. Edmundson’s research focuses on proteins called antibodies, which protect the body against the harmful effects of invading molecules (named antigens). Two of the antibodies are currently in clinical trials for treatments of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Such molecules are difficult to obtain from human sources in quantities sufficient for clinical trials. In recent years, however, it has been possible to produce synthetic antibodies that have been “humanized” from naturally occurring mouse antibodies. These mouse proteins are modified to make them as close to human proteins as possible and still retain their ability to react specifically with invaders. The OARS grant will further Dr. Edmundson’s ongoing research which ultimately seeks to improve the treatment for MS and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Dr. Edmundson came to OMRF in 1995.
Dr. Tabatabaie’s grant will support her study of the role of COX-2 expression in the development of insulin-dependent diabetes and the potential therapeutic action of COX-2 inhibitors against this disease. This study, coupled with other research in Dr. Tabatabaie’s laboratory, could potentially lead to developing new interventional therapeutics for people with increased risk of developing insulin dependent diabetes. Dr. Tabatabaie is a Research Assistant Member in the Free Radical Biology and Aging program at OMRF. She joined the foundation in 1992.
OCAST, through the OARS program, provides seed funding to applied research projects under terms which increase industrial R&D investment and reward collaborative efforts when combining the resources of two or more organizations is advantageous to the commercial outcome of a project. State incentive funding helps recipients leverage the capital required to develop and market a technology.
For additional information on OCAST, the OARS program, or other projects funded, please call 405-524-1357 or www.ocast.state.ok.us.