NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Dr. Edward Arnold, a resident facultymember of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine (CABM) anda professor in Rutgers' department of chemistry, has won a prestigiousNational Institutes of Health (NIH) MERIT Award of more than $3 million.
The funding will extend support of Arnold's continuing research on aprotein called reverse transcriptase (RT) that the AIDS virus uses toreplicate its genetic material. RT is the target molecule forleading-edge, AIDS-fighting drugs such as AZT, DDI, Nevirapine and 3TC.
A limited number of the NIH MERIT (Method to Extend Research in Time)Awards are made to investigators who have demonstrated superiorcompetence and outstanding productivity in their research and are likelyto do so in the future. The awards double the amount and duration of aresearcher's existing grant. Arnold currently has a five-year, $3.4million NIH grant that will now be extended to approximately 10 years ata funding level expected to total in the range of $7 million with theMERIT Award five-year extension.
"One of the great developments in modern biology and life sciences isthe breathtaking ability we now have to reduce a lot of importantbiological phenomena to the atomic level," said Arnold, who is aresident of Belle Mead. "We have been able to do this for a crucialpart of the AIDS virus."
Many times a potent drug will be effective initially against HIV but asa result of the virus' ability to mutate, the drug will no longer work. "The emergence of drug resistance presents a stiff challenge incontrolling an infection like HIV and this is a main focus of ours. Oneof the ideals of the pharmaceutical industry is to be able to develop'irresistible' drugs," said Arnold.
An important application of Arnold's research is in the design anddevelopment of more effective drugs for treating AIDS. For almost 10years, he has collaborated with scientists at Janssen Pharmaceutica, asubsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Arnold and his group have obtaineddetailed pictures of how potential drug molecules made by chemists atJanssen block the essential machinery of the AIDS virus, and togetherthey have published some of their key results in prominent scientificjournals. Arnold's colleagues at Janssen, under the mentorship of Dr.Paul Janssen, the founder of the company, are using these pictures andother information to try to design new families of molecules with betteractivities.
For the past 12 years, Arnold has also been collaborating on thisproblem with Dr. Stephen Hughes of the NIH National Cancer Institute'sCancer Research and Development Center, which is obtaining biochemicaland genetic characterizations of RT while Arnold's laboratory hasgenerated structures in parallel. "What this does is allow us to havean integrated view of a very complex yet crucial player in a biologicalsystem -- in this case, one of extreme interest and importance since itis part of the AIDS virus," said Arnold.
Another key project in Arnold's laboratory, funded by the same agency atNIH but not covered by the MERIT Award, is concerned with AIDS vaccinedesign and development. Arnold co-directs this project with his wife,Dr. Gail Ferstandig Arnold, a CABM faculty member and a researchprofessor in Rutgers' chemistry department.
The Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine is jointlyadministered by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jerseyand Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and is designated bythe New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology as one of thestate's advanced technology centers. Funding is provided by theCommission, Rutgers, UMDNJ, and other public and private sources.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Edward Arnold can be contacted at (732) 235-5323 or bye-mail at
The above story is based on materials provided by Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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