Professor Rahul Khupse and his team of pharmacy students have been hard at work on developing a drug that has the potential to treat the most aggressive form of brain cancer, Glioblastoma. Glioblastoma is brain cancer that can develop in any area of the brain and has the ability to develop and grow rapidly along with the symptoms that patients can experience. There are many different treatments to treat Glioblastoma, such as chemotherapy, but the issue with those treatments are not capable of only targeting the cancer cells but instead kill both the healthy cells and the harmful ones. The team at The University of Findlay have developed a compound that they call “RK-15”, which has the ability to only target the brain cancer cells. This will lead to a better rate of people being able to fight cancer and not have the horrible side effects that chemotherapy drugs have.
The main compound is RK-15 is chalcone which is often found in an Indian dish, curry. The idea to try a natural product came to Dr. Khupse during his time in grad school, as well as his years growing up in India. Chalcone has the ability to act as an anti-inflammatory, thus making it a great natural product to use. While Dr. Khupse does deserve a lot of credit for helping to develop this project, he wants to make sure that he was not alone in his efforts. His students were just as much a part of this as he was.
“The best part about this [project] has been giving the students the experience on how a pre-clinical study works.” says Dr. Khupse.
He estimates that throughout the two-year span that the pharmacy department has been working on this project, 10-15 students have been able to be in the lab with him and the other faculty to receive the first-hand experience that every pharmacy student dream of.
Jacob Reyes is a graduate student who has worked very closely on this project. He credits his dad for always suggesting to him that Pharmacy would be a good career choice. He is now excited for the opportunities that his chosen career has to offer.
“It seems to me that Pharmacy provides an opportunity to be very accessible to patients for medical advice, almost like the “frontlines” of healthcare. I decided that pharmacy would be a great career field to truly make a difference in the lives of patients with whom I interact.” said Reyes.
Not only is he planning on making a difference once he graduates, but he also is making a difference throughout his education by working with Dr. Khupse and others on developing this drug to treat Glioblastoma.
This drug is in the early stages of development, and most likely will not be on the market
for another 10-15 years. Their next step is finding others who are capable of performing animal
testing to accurately determine the effectiveness of the drug. Although, the University of Findlay
has a mass amount of technology at their fingertips, they are not capable of performing the next
series of testing and are looking for partners to help them with the project.