The Portal Problem: Transporter Proteins and Drug Safety
Posted August 22, 2007
Transporter proteins play important roles in moving nutrients and toxins through different compartments of the body. But as pharmaceutical researchers have discovered, they are also involved in many surprising drug–drug interactions. An April 13, 2007, meeting of the Academy's Predictive Toxicology Discussion Group gathered academic and corporate researchers to discuss recent developments in the evolving field of transporter biology, as well as new guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that would require drug developers to test their compounds' effects on specific transporters.
Ellen Priest reviewed the transporters likely to be involved in drug metabolism, particularly ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters and active solute carrier (SLC) transporters, which have been shown to alter the metabolism of certain drugs. Keith Hoffmaster presented important insights into drug transport in the liver, and his group's discovery of a complex series of uptake and efflux pathways in the organ. Reina Bendayan presented studies showing that atazanavir, an antiretroviral drug used against HIV, boosts the expression of the efflux transporter P-glycoprotein (P-gp) at the blood–brain barrier; treating the cells with atazanavir and another protease inhibitor, ritonavir, also causes a twofold increase in the cells' expression of P-gp. Raymond Evers ended with a detailed analysis of the new FDA guidelines on transporter biology, and described efforts in his laboratory to identify potential drug–drug interactions early in the development pipeline.
Use the tabs above to find a meeting report and multimedia from this event.
Web Sites and Books
FDA Draft Guidance on Drug–Drug Interactions
This Web site provides drug developers with FDA's current understanding of how to conduct drug-interaction studies and resulting labeling.
UCSF Pharmacogenetics of Membrane Transporters
In this project, investigators from diverse disciplines are conducting a series of integrated studies to elucidate the pharmacogenetics of membrane transport proteins. This class of proteins is of great pharmacological importance as it provides the target for many commonly used prescription drugs and is a major determinant of the absorption, distribution, and elimination of many clinically used drugs.
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Ellen Priest, PhD
Ellen Priest is a principal scientist in the Drug Metabolism group of the Nonclinical Drug Safety department at Hoffmann-LaRoche in Nutley, NJ. Priest completed her graduate work at Georgetown University. After earning her doctorate under the direction of Paul Roepe, she joined Roche as a research associate. Her primary focus is on predicting drug transporter-mediated drug–drug interactions, using in vitro methods.
Keith Hoffmaster, PhD
Keith Hoffmaster is a principal scientist at the Pfizer Research Technology Center in Cambridge, MA. He received his PhD in drug delivery and disposition from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At Pfizer, his current research focus is on developing and evaluating innovative technologies to improve predictions of hepatic clearance, understanding the risks of transporter-mediated drug interactions in the liver, and assessing the potential for hepatotoxicity of new chemical entities.
Hoffmaster was appointed as a visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005, and he is an active member of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS). He was recently elected co-chair of the AAPS's Drug Transport Focus Group for 2007 and 2008. An author on more than 40 publications and presentations on drug absorption, deposition, metabolism, excretion, and toxicology, he has also lectured on these topics on several occasions at leading academic graduate programs.
Reina Bendayan, PharmD
Reina Bendayan is an associate professor and chair of the Graduate Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, in the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto. After obtaining a bachelor's degree in pharmacy and completing a hospital pharmacy residency at the University of Montreal, Bendayan moved to the University of Florida for her doctorate of pharmacy. She then returned to the north for a three-year Medical Research Council postdoctoral fellowship program in clinical pharmacy and membrane cell biology at the University of Toronto.
Bendayan's research program focuses primarily on membrane transport and therapeutics, with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS antiviral drug transport and metabolism in the brain. Her research is funded primarily by the Canadian Institute of Health Research, the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research, and the Ontario HIV Treatment Network of the Ministry of Health of Ontario.
Raymond Evers, PhD
Raymond Evers studied biology at the University of Amsterdam, where he also earned his PhD based on work performed at the Max Planck Institute for Biology in Tübingen, Germany. He did his postdoctoral work at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, and the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. Currently, he is working as an associate director in the Department of Drug Metabolism at Merck and Company in Rahway, NJ, where he oversees an in vitro technology group. His responsibilities include studying the propensity of drug candidates to cause pharmacokinetic drug–drug interactions due to enzyme inhibition or activation of nuclear receptors, and investigating the role of transporters in drug absorption, disposition, and drug–drug interactions.
Alan Dove is a science writer and reporter for Nature Medicine, Nature Biotechnology, and Bioscience Technology. He also teaches at the NYU School of Journalism, and blogs at http://dovdox.com.