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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 11, 2007

Donovan receives grant to study drug pathways

Maureen Donovan, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutics in the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy, has received a five-year, $1 million grant to study the transport of drugs from the nasal cavity to the brain.

Donovan has received the grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH). The grant, "Bypassing the Blood Brain Barrier: Modulation of Transporters in the Nasal Mucosa," will enable Donovan and her colleagues to study the pathways drugs use to travel between the nasal cavity and the brain.

The researchers will use DNA analysis to identify specialized transporters present in the cells of the nasal mucosa (the tissue lining the nasal cavity) that might help to transfer drugs from the nasal cavity to the brain or may instead help to keep some drugs out of the brain.

"One of the greatest challenges in the development of drugs used for the treatment of diseases based in the central nervous system (CNS) is the transfer of a drug from the blood into the brain across what is referred to as 'the blood-brain barrier,'" Donovan said. "We are attempting to bypass this barrier using the unique transport pathway provided by the connection between the olfactory system (the body's system of smell) and the nasal mucosa."

Donovan will attempt to identify methods to improve drug transport through this pathway and determine whether drugs that can access the pathway are also able to produce a therapeutic effect once transferred to the CNS.

A 15-year veteran to this area of research, Donovan will work with Todd Scheetz, Ph.D., UI assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences and biomedical engineering, and Daniel Bonthius, M.D., UI associate professor of pediatrics, neurology, and anatomy and cell biology. The research will be conducted at the UI College of Pharmacy and the DNA Facility in the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology in the UI College of Engineering.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, Health Science Relations, 319-335-8032,; Writer: Brandy Huseman