Tech Transfer eNews Blog

U of Arizona start-up repurposes failed pain relief treatment to address surgical hypothermia

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 5th, 2017

A team of researchers from the University of Arizona (UA) and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix has created a new way to treat the drop in body temperature caused by the use of anesthetics in surgery.

Joined by William Schmidt, a seasoned pharmacologist and entrepreneur, the team worked with UA’s commercialization office Tech Launch Arizona (TLA) to patent their innovation and license it to their start-up, Catalina Pharma.

Lead researcher Amol Patwardhan had been investigating the use of TRPV-1 antagonists, which were originally proposed to treat pain but failed to pass clinical trials because they induced hyperthermia as a side effect, causing a marked rise in body temperature. As an anesthesiologist, Patwardhan understood that surgical anesthetics often cause a drop in the patient’s body temperature, and that there was currently no pharmaceutical treatment to bring body temperature back up. He then collaborated with Frank Porreca of UA and Andrej Romanovsky at St. Joseph’s to turn the negative side effects of TRPV-1 into a novel and promising therapeutic.

“The ability to repurpose a compound originally sidelined from clinical development due to the hyperthermia-side effect as a new therapy is extremely exciting,” says Romanovsky.

Current methods to treat anesthesia-induced hypothermia are purely physical, such as wrapping patients in warm blankets and raising room temperatures. These methods are problematic, as blankets are not safe for open wounds, and warmer temperatures can make surgeons uncomfortable during difficult procedures.

“With an experienced team of physicians and scientists, we are eager to address this problem by taking failed TRPV-1 antagonists back into clinical evaluation for prevention of surgical hypothermia,” says Schmidt, who serves as president of Catalina Pharma. “This could be a major breakthrough that could save lives.”

Source: Tech Launch Arizona

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