The presidents of San Antonio’s four largest research institutions announced on Oct. 15 that they are providing $800,000, collectively, for a major initiative in precision therapeutics. The process of precision therapeutics ultimately leads to breakthrough treatments that can be individualized to specific patient populations.
The new San Antonio Partnership for Precision Therapeutics (SA PPT) is being established by UT Health San Antonio, Texas Biomedical Research Institute (Texas Biomed), the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI®).
While precision medicine generally focuses on personalized interventions that are based on genetics, environment and diet, precision therapeutics represents a unique merger of this discipline with the complete drug discovery pathway, encompassing and integrating the two which has not been done before.
Ethnic diversity makes the Alamo City a prime location for the development of a precision therapeutics model. With a Hispanic population that is expected to double by the year 2050, San Antonio currently reflects the demographics that the nation will experience in the coming decades. Of the city’s 1.5 million residents, 65% are Hispanic, and of this group, 91% are of Mexican descent.
“The San Antonio Partnership for Precision Therapeutics is an innovative and high-impact initiative that will put the patient first by fundamentally changing the way new treatments are developed for cancer, obesity, diabetes, infectious diseases and other debilitating conditions,” said UT Health San Antonio President William Henrich, M.D. “Diversity is the key to discovering and developing improved and more effective drug therapies. Due to its diverse population, San Antonio is the exemplar for this groundbreaking partnership.”
Texas Biomed, UTSA, UT Health San Antonio and SwRI will each contribute unique assets and expertise to the SA PPT.
UT Health San Antonio, one of the nation’s leading academic health and research institutions, is home to the Mays Cancer Center, a clinical and research enterprise affiliated with the world-renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center. The Mays Cancer Center, one of only four National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Centers in Texas, includes the renowned Institute for Drug Development. UT Health San Antonio also features the Center for Renal Precision Medicine, the Center on Smart and Connected Healthcare Technologies, the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases, and the Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies. To advance the SA PPT, UT Health San Antonio will offer nine institutional core laboratories, including those focused on mass spectrometry, lipidomics, metabolomics and X-ray crystallography as well as biobanking, high-resolution optical imaging, single-cell analyses and flow cytometry.
A pioneer of biomedical breakthroughs, Texas Biomed is a world-leader in the science of infectious diseases and their associations with other disease states and susceptible populations. Its strengths include research programs in tuberculosis, HIV, malaria and other parasitic diseases, hepatitis and hemorrhagic viruses, aging and obesity and other complex metabolic disorders.
UTSA’s research portfolio is heavily focused on biomedicine, including neuroscience and brain health, infectious diseases, and regenerative and molecular medicine. Additionally, it is home to the nation’s top cybersecurity program and has robust expertise in cloud computing, data analytics and artificial intelligence, which will lead to technological innovation and the creation of new algorithms to accelerate drug discovery and therapeutics.
SwRI, a leading applied science institution, has a rich history in advancing and supporting commercialization of drug and formulation technology to improve patient health care. It has developed and licensed multiple technologies to fight infectious disease, reduce pain and treat addiction, mitochondrial poisoning and cancer. Its scientists offer vast expertise in micro and nanoencapsulation technologies that solve complex drug delivery problems and accelerate drug discovery and development.
Liz Tullis has been named SA PPT Interim Operations Director. She will be responsible for establishing routines and governance, operational performance and strategic planning. More information on the San Antonio Partnership for Precision Therapeutics is available at www.sappt.org.