Aspen, Colorado – David Fajgenbaum, co-founder of Every Cure and physician-scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, unveiled his ‘Big Idea’ to repurpose existing drugs for the treatment of various diseases at the Aspen Ideas Health Conference.
Fajgenbaum’s personal battle with Castleman Disease during his time as a medical student inspired his mission to explore the untapped potential of drug repurposing. Facing a lack of treatment options, Fajgenbaum administered a drug intended for a different ailment on himself, which remarkably saved his life. This transformative experience led him to identify and advance 16 more repurposed drugs for different diseases. However, significant challenges still hinder progress in this field.
Approximately 3,000 FDA-approved drugs exist for 3,000 diseases, leaving 9,000 diseases without any approved therapies. Repurposing existing drugs offers a faster and cost-effective alternative to new drug development. Yet, three systemic obstacles persist.
The absence of a comprehensive database tracking promising repurposing opportunities poses the first challenge. Pharmaceutical companies lack incentives to explore new uses for existing drugs, especially generic ones. Furthermore, no centralized organization exists to ensure drugs are fully utilized for all treatable diseases. Consequently, billions of dollars are spent on new drug development, despite existing drugs being underutilized.
Fajgenbaum called on the audience to join Every Cure in their mission to repurpose drugs and maximize their potential. The organization recently launched an AI-powered platform capable of identifying repurposing opportunities. Fajgenbaum shared a success story of a patient whose life was saved by a repurposed drug. Every Cure aims to explore additional promising opportunities, such as metreleptin for anorexia and bosutinib for ALS.
However, Fajgenbaum emphasized that Every Cure cannot achieve its mission alone. He urged individuals to contribute data and funds to ensure life-saving cures are accessible to all patients. By working together, Fajgenbaum believes society can revolutionize healthcare and unlock the full potential of every drug.