Center for Research in Molecular Pharmacology

Welcome Letter from the Director
Welcome to the Center for Research in Molecular Pharmacology !

The Center for Research in Molecular Pharmacology-Overview (CRMP) is committed to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge on neurological disorders supported by basic and clinical research. An important quest from the CRMP is to understand the origin of diverse neurological ailments, including depression, anxiety, drug and nicotine addiction, pain related diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, and autosomal dominant frontal lobe epilepsy. A second, but not less important, quest is to conduct pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, metabolic, pharmaceutical, toxicological, and teratogenic studies to develop new pharmacotherapeutic compounds that can alleviate and potentially cure these diseases.

The objective of our Center is founded in the notion that scientific collaborations make the health field to flourish. In this regard, the CRMP pursues multidisciplinary research between faculty from the different CNU Colleges and Research Centers, and researchers from the USA and the world.

For those of you interested in pursuing a career in health sciences, our strive for research excellence serves to ensure a stimulating and nurturing environment for producing the next generation of highly competitive pharmacists and physicians. Our students will benefit of this unique environment, where interdisciplinary approaches will reflect situations from the health arena.

On behalf of the CRMP members, I encourage you to explore our research program and the exciting scientific and educational opportunities we offer. 

Hugo R. Arias, PhD
Director, CRMP
Assistant Dean of Research (COM)
Professor of Pharmacology and Biochemistry (COM)

Center for Research in Molecular Pharmacology

Overview
The Center for Research in Molecular Pharmacology (CRMP) was founded in 2012 and is part of the College of Medicine (COM), located in the Elk Grove campus from the California Northstate University (CNU). The Center’s specific aims are: (1) to understand the origin of diverse neurological disorders, including depression, anxiety, drug and nicotine addiction, pain related diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, and autosomal dominant frontal lobe epilepsy; and (2) develop new pharmacotherapeutic compounds that can alleviate and potentially cure these diseases by conducting pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, metabolic, pharmaceutical, toxicological, and teratogenic studies.

The CRMP emphasizes a multidisciplinary approach including experimental and structural biology, pharmacology, pharmaceutics, and therapeutics. The Center includes areas in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery, computer-based approaches for rational drug design and drug-target interactions, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, toxicology, pharmacology, and pharmaceutics. By promoting close and frequent interactions between scientists from a variety of disciplines, the CRMP provides a fertile environment for the identification, validation, and exploitation of targets and biomarkers for a variety of neurological ailments with potential high socio-economic impact, including ). The efforts of several discrete groups of investigators which focus on specific aspects of target identification, target-drug interaction, and therapeutic exploitation, are further enriched by collaborative interactions with scientists from universities around the world. The Center has experts in chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, structural and computational biology, toxicology, and pharmaceutics who interact in a concerted manner towards the identification of viable therapeutic approaches and strategies in experimental systems as well as stepwise refinements, ultimately supporting clinical trials. The Center also provides preclinical therapeutic and toxicological testing in developmental phase of agents for target exploitation. The ability to implement advanced research and training programs is further strengthened by a well-established clinical liaison with Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center.

The evaluation and therapeutic development of new agents and treatments originated within the CRMP using University, Government, Foundation, and Industrial sources represent a primary activity of our Center. The development of promising agents (synthetic, semisynthetic, and natural) and biologicals includes testing for biological activity at the molecular, cellular, and animal levels, comprising preclinical pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics studies, and complete toxicological and teratogenic evaluations, using in vitro and in vivo model systems. Drug candidates with the least adverse effects achieve Investigational New Drug status, passing to the next level of clinical trials for the treatment of specific diseases. Recent developments from our Center have led to the identification of novel positive allosteric modulators of the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, with promnesic, antidepressant, and anxiolytic activity, which are important features for the treatment of cognitive impairments with additional depression, as observed in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and Huntington’s disease, as well as with analgesic activity, which could be important for pain related diseases. We are currently determining the pharmacokinetics and toxicological properties of these compounds to support future clinical trials.

Emphasis is placed on the acquisition and integration of pharmacological, biochemical, pharmaceutical, and clinical information related to useful therapeutic agents, and on the evaluation of the basis for their activity/selectivity/toxicity. Such interests identify the means to further increase the selectivity of drug action against specific targets, decreasing potential toxicological/teratogenic effects. The reduction of drug toxicity towards improving its therapeutic index is thus being pursued. Receptors and ion channels are being identified as main determinants of drug action and selectivity in normal and pathological conditions, and the interactions between exogenous drugs, endogenous molecules (e.g., neurotransmitters, hormones, modulators, and messengers), and target endpoints are being assessed. A major effort is being placed on carrying out an effective translational research program for clinical biochemical and pharmacological studies through increased cooperative research with the CNU College of Pharmacy, Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center, and elsewhere. Continuing implementation of this research area is essential to ensure both the possibility of verifying the clinical validity of treatments and approaches developed in our Center, and the possibility for our investigators to benefit from the feedback of information and scientific stimulation from the clinicians. This research area includes three general groups: (1) those related to the study of the molecular mechanisms underlying a particular disease, (2) those related to the study of the mode of action of known and newly developed drugs, and the identification of their molecular determinants, and (3) those pertaining to the development of new treatments, particularly through the development of novel formulations and medications.

Several additional functions carried out by individual staff members from the College of Medicine contribute to the research and educational atmosphere prevailing in our Center. Thus, participation in cooperative programs or collaborative studies with members from other CNU Colleges, Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center, Sutter Institute for Medical Research, and/or with colleagues working at other Institutions, represents an important means to achieve broad scientific goals, to exert leadership in the scientific community and to obtain scientific input, stimulation, and cross-fertilization.

Areas and Specialties

The RCMP focuses on Neurological disorders, using four areas of expertise:

  • Molecular Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutics
  • Pre-clinical Experimental Therapeutics (animal studies will be developed at Antibodies Inc., Davis, CA)
  • Clinical Experimental Therapeutics (clinical studies will be potentially developed in collaboration with Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center)

The Center, using state-of-the-art techniques, specializes in the synthesis of novel drugs, development of formulations for better delivery and enhanced bioavailability, determination of pharmacological and toxicological activities of drugs and its metabolites by using molecular, cellular, and animal models, as well as the characterization of biomarkers and drug targets.

Center for Research in Molecular Pharmacology

Members in alphabetical order:

Subcategories

California Northstate University College of Medicine ♦ 9700 West Taron Drive ♦ Elk Grove, CA 95757 ♦ Phone: (916) 686-7300