Targeting SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) methyltransferases (nsp10-nsp14 and nsp10-nsp16 complexes) toward developing small molecule antiviral therapeutics

COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to standstill with more than 3 million people infected and more than 200 000 mortality so far. It has literally brought the health care systems in many countries to the breaking point, if not beyond. The economic consequences have been devastating with millions of people out of work. We are taking a novel approach by focusing on two SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19) methyltransferases that are essential for viral replication. Both enzymes (nsp14 and nsp16) are druggable.

Chemical targeting of HDAC6 as a strategy for anti-viral drug discovery

The emergence of viral pandemics, exemplified by the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), has exposed the urgent need for the development of viral infection therapeutics. In a short span of time, more than 1.5 million individuals have been infected and there have been nearly 90, 000 deaths worldwide. Our objective is to pharmacologically validate a new strategy for viral infection therapeutics by designing molecules that inhibit HDAC6, a protein implicated in viral entry.

Development of a platform for the passive transdermal delivery of macromolecules possessing a wide range of physicochemical properties

The goal of this project is to develop patches which are able to deliver a variety of large molecules through the skin. To date, patches developed for delivery tend to fall under a “lock-and-key” model, where one material will only be able to hold/deliver one drug. Furthermore, the drugs delivered are limited to small molecules in small doses, limiting the types of drugs that can be delivered through patches.

Novel treatments for inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic disease of the gut and is recognized as a serious medical condition associated with a profoundly negative impact on patients’ quality of life. Currently, there are no widely acknowledged causes of this disorder and no effective treatments available. Panag Pharma Inc. is a Halifax based drug company which focuses on development of novel therapeutic treatments which can be used to alleviate both pain and inflammation associated with ICD. The goal of our research is to provide IBD patients with symptom and pain relief, as well as to improve outcome.

Imaging MAO-B in Cannabis Use and Cannabis Use Disorder with Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

Cannabis is the most commonly used drug worldwide. However, there is limited understanding of factors supporting cannabis use (CU) and the development of cannabis use disorder (CUD). There is also a clear association between mood disorders and CUD, but the mechanism underlying this relationship is unclear. There is evidence that major depression is associated with elevated monoamine oxidases (MAO). Tobacco use is also associated with an inhibition of MAOs (both subtype A and B). Our hypothesis is that the same inhibition is happening in the brain of people exposed to cannabis.

Development of the Metaplex Immuno-Oncology Platform - Immuno-Oncology Component

Current cancer immunotherapies, although highly successful, are complex to implement, costly, and only effective in small patient populations with specific cancer types. We propose to overcome these problems by developing small molecules to induce immunogenic cell death (ICD), a cancer cell death process that engages the immune system to recognize and eliminate cancer cells and to generate immunological memory. Cuprous Pharmaceuticals Inc. (CPI) has identified ICD-inducing compounds that are enhanced by copper (Cu) as an adjuvant.

Stability and antioxidant properties of pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products

Nutraceuticals are being used ubiquitously, but seldom undergo rigorous testing. This study is focused on two primary aspects of studying natural health products, specific cannabis and its oils. The first objective is to determine the shelf life (product stability) by performing a series of tests to accelerate the ageing process in order to provide an estimation of shelf life. Currently, cannabis oils have arbitrary assignments of expiry dates, if at all. The other key focus involves studying the antioxidant benefits (or pro-oxidant detriment) imparted by cannabis products.

Safety assessment and toxicity profile of a Manganese-based contrast agent

To design effective and patient-specific cancer therapy, sensitive detection of relapse and distant metastases by non-invasive medical imaging is essential, for which MRI offers tremendous potential due to wide availability of the equipment in clinic and avoidance of ionizing radiation. Although gadolinium-based contrast agents are the most frequently used for MRI, they are associated with nephrogenic systemic fibrosis and brain deposition. Thus, less toxic manganese ions (Mn 2+ ) are exploited as an alternative for tumor detection using MRI.

Computational Chemistry And Structural Biology Approaches To Tackle Huntington's Disease

Huntington’s Disease (HD) is a fatal hereditary neurodegenerative disease caused by expansion of the CAG repeat tract at the 5’ of the huntingtin (htt) gene resulting in polyglutamine expansion of the HTT protein (polyQ-HTT) of aberrant function. HD symptoms include loss of motor coordination, cognitive and speech impairment, and psychiatric disorders. HD affects approximately 1 in 7000 people in Canada, and there are no cures or disease-modifying therapies to date.

Non-Viral Approach to Immunotherapy with Engineered Polymers

A new therapy was developed in order to combat cancers by stimulating our immune system to fight agents the cancer cells in the body. The activated immune system is more efficient to fight the cancer cells than the common drugs, but stimulating the immune system is very expensive and labour-intensive with the currently developed protocols. This project will develop a cost-effective way to stimulate immune system to fight cancers. We will use advanced biomaterials and immune stimulatory genes in order to achieve this.