Drug repurposing involves exploring whether a drug designed for one disease can be used effectively for another disease. It’s not a new concept, but it’s time to give it a boost!
Pharmaceutical companies have financially benefited from, and create patient benefit from, drug repurposing for many years. For example, the drug sildenafil (Viagra) was in development as a remedy for angina. It didn’t work in that indication, but along the way it was discovered to be an effective drug to treat erectile dysfunction. It has since been further repurposed to treat arterial pulmonary hypertension, and is now being considered as a cancer drug.
Repurposing drugs has largely been a serendipitous process – treatments coming more by chance than intent. That is changing.
Advancements in technology mean that interactions between known drugs and unsolved diseases can be rapidly modelled, tested and shared around the world.
This presents a huge opportunity to help patients. New repurposed treatments can be developed more quickly and be more accessible and affordable than ever before.
But scaling up this drug repurposing will require new collaborations to connect patients, researchers, governments, philanthropists and industry. Collaborations that can help support the efforts of those engaged in drug repurposing.
Repurposing 101 is a site designed to introduce drug repurposing to wider audiences and demonstrate the critical role it can play in finding affordable, accessible and effective treatments.
It’s also a call to action – to encourage individuals and organizations to support the development of this emerging field to help drive more treatments more quickly to more patients.