LaunchPad: Targeted Therapies for Pain, Inflammation

LaunchPad, a project of UCSF's Clinical and Translational Science Institute, is designed to highlight the experiences and accomplishments of UCSF’s translational researchers, and to support them in their efforts to develop beneficial medical products.

By Angela Rizk-Jackson

The two most common ways to administer drugs are oral ingestion or intravenous injection. These methods disperse medication systemically, and only a small portion of the dosage actually reaches the part of the body that is in need of therapy.

Targeted drug delivery aims to get therapeutic medication directly to the site in the body that needs it, without exposure to healthy tissues and the resulting side effects.

UC San Francisco researcher Aditi Bhargava, an associate professor in the Department of Surgery who has expertise in molecular biology and neuroendocrinology, is working on the development of targeted therapeutics in areas of bowel disease and pain. She has teamed up with others from UCSF, including collaborators Peter Ohara, PhD, a neuroanatomist, and Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, a neurosurgeon, to develop a method for delivering small-molecules to a specific target group of cells for treatment of pain.

“We came up with a technique that could be used like a Trojan horse, encapsulating and delivering RNA-based therapies or small drug-based therapies to specific neurons,” says Bhargava of the initial project collaboration involving targeted pain management.

Bhargava has received support for her research from the Catalyst Awards, a program managed by UCSF’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) that aims at accelerate the translation of scientific advances to improvements in healthcare.

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