Clinical Informatics News, December 3, 2015

Allison Proffitt

For severely ill children with a rare disease called autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome (ALPS), dead white blood cells build up in the organs instead of being broken down normally. But two pills a day of a drug approved for use after kidney transplants gives some total remission of their disease.

A laser developed to treat epilepsy can be trained on a cancerous prostate, killing the cancerous cells but not damaging the surrounding nerves, the bowel, or other critical structures.

These are repositioning success stories, instances in which drugs and devices originally approved for one indication have proven life-changing for patients with a different disease. But many times, it’s hard to connect the ideas and funding to support the research and trials needed for drug or device repurposing.

 “Our job has always been to bring those parties together and help make a good match,” explained Bruce Bloom, President and Chief Science Officer at Cures Within Reach.  

Last month, Cures Within Reach announced a new initiative encouraging researchers and clinicians to post 100 new repurposing projects within 100 days to CureAccelerator, the online matchmaking tool it launched in June, “to prove to the world that developing repurposed treatments is a critical piece of the healthcare puzzle.”

Cures Within Reach doesn’t directly fund repurposing research, but instead plays a facilitator role in connecting and distributing funding to researchers with projects in mind. The organization was formally founded in 2005, a non-profit that grew out of the work previously funded by a family charity. Since 2001, Cures Within Reach had been working on drug repurposing, but in 2009 decided to drop other research efforts and focus exclusively on drug repurposing, Bloom said.

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