UK researcher develops nicotinic drugs with R.J. Reynolds

LEXINGTON, KY - Nicotine researcher Peter Crooks, Ph.D., professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy, and tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds may seem like an unlikely pair, but together they're hoping to develop new drugs which provide benefits from relieving pain to improving memory.

Although most people are aware of the negative effects of nicotine, Crooks has been in the forefront of research into its beneficial effects for nearly 20 years and began a partnership in 1992 with R.J. Reynolds in a drug discovery program.

The partnership with the therapeutics discovery group, now called Targacept, has resulted in several potential drug candidates being evaluated for clinical trials.

Nicotine is the addictive ingredient in tobacco products that keeps many users hooked, but during the past several years, researchers like Crooks have worked to develop nicotine analogs, and to focus on the beneficial impact they have on Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, chronic pain, obesity, and depression.

Crooks has been studying the medicinal chemistry of nicotine and nicotine analogs since the early 1980s. During this time, he and his coworkers have completed extensive studies on the metabolism and pharmacokinetics of nicotine in and around the brain.

Collaborating with colleague Linda Dwoskin, Ph.D., UK professor of pharmaceutical sciences, Crooks has investigated the pharmacological actions of several nicotine metabolites and nicotine analogs on the brain have been investigated.

Nine patents on the nicotine analog work have been licensed for development by Targacept, and several others recently have been filed with the U.S. Patent office. However, Dr. Crooks said it is too early to determine if any of these novel molecules ever will find their way to the pharmacy shelves. "Clinical trials take several years and often include several phases with

Contact: Kristi Lopez
University of Kentucky Medical Center

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