MELBOURNE, FLA.—The competition was stiff, with fewer than three percent of proposals funded. But Florida Institute of Technology Chemistry Professor and Director of the Claude Pepper Research Institute Joshua Rokach was among the chosen few. He has received funding from the American Asthma Foundation for further study of asthma antagonist drugs developed by him and his team. The grant of $750,000 over three years will fund this research.
Antagonists interact selectively with receptors but do not lead to an observed effect. Instead they block or dampen the action of an agonist at the receptor site involved.
“In the case of an asthma attack, for example, lung volume contracts and white blood cells accumulate in the lungs. These cells cause an inflammatory response and broncho-constriction. Antagonists, such as the ones we have developed, can block this response,” said Rokach. A patent has been issued for the intellectual property rights to these antagonists, which can be developed as anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic drugs.
Rokach, a noted researcher on anti-inflammatory diseases, received worldwide recognition for the first syntheses of major inflammatory mediators such as leukotrienes and lipoxins, which are responsible for allergies of the lung and nose. The availability of these synthetic mediators has opened the field to medical research in the areas of allergy and inflammation.
Among his accomplishments, Rokach was responsible for the development of the drug “Singulair,”a leukotriene-D4 antagonist, used by millions of allergy sufferers for the relief of asthma and rhinitis symptoms.