Conference aims to foster discovery of new drugs to improve treatment of certain diseases

Local News

Students and staff from several universities across the Commonwealth came together today to talk about drug discovery.

“I’ve always been interested in neuroscience, just because it’s so amazing, like the fact that we’re having this conversation. How does that work? How does that happen?” says Virginia Tech graduate student, Joelle Martin.

The event was organized by the Virginia Drug Discovery Consortium.

“We’re focusing on getting these people together to share their ideas and potentially form collaborations that will result new companies or new research grants and ultimately, we trust the discovery of new drugs,” says Dr. David Kingston, a university distinguished professor at Virginia Tech.

The two-day conference kicked off with a speaker who is a graduate of Giles High and Virginia Tech.

“I think it’s really awful that in the pursuit of alleviating pain, you become completely subject to the drug that’s trying to help you and lose that control of your life,” says Laura Bohn, a professor with Scripps Research Institute in Florida.

That’s why Bohn spoke about her research in the field of opioid receptors, and finding alternative approaches to treating pain.

“Opiods are the drugs that you use to treat pain, but they’re also the drugs that lead to a lot of problems like overdose and addiction. And our research is trying to understand how that actually happens and how we can still treat pain and avoid those problems,” says Bohn.

Discussions at the conference will also center on cancer and neurological diseases.

“Cancer is such a huge killer, although there have been so many great advances recently, we still need to be looking for that next critical breakthrough,” says Paul Carlier, professor of chemistry at Virginia Tech.

Carlier says the drug discovery process is a long road, but he hopes the academics attending the conference will discover what they need to know so they can take the first steps towards such a breakthrough.

The Virginia Drug Discovery Consortium plans to host another symposium in spring 2020. 

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