BioADD lab helps researchers develop safer and more effective drugs

Jayakumar Rajadas, PhD, BioADD director and founder

Photo by Kris Newby

The Biomaterials and Advanced Drug Delivery (BioADD) Laboratory, located at 1050 Arastradero Road, is available to assist Stanford researchers in the development of new drugs. Jayakumar Rajadas, PhD, the lab’s director and founder, manages a staff of 14 research scientists who offer a variety of services, including:

  • Characterization and interaction of drug molecules
  • Analysis of the movement and effect of drugs in a body
  • Organic synthesis, purification and characterization of small molecule compounds
  • Evaluation of efficacy of various types of drug products
  • Preclinical development of potential new drug product candidates
  • Engineering of drug delivery systems, such as extended release tablets, suspensions and transdermal patches.

In addition, the lab supports Stanford’s Cardiovascular Pharmacology Division and
carries out original research on the molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Lyme disease.

Searching for Lyme Disease Treatments

The lab’s research for Stanford’s Lyme Working Group illustrates how its expertise in high-throughput drug screening can accelerate the search for better treatments and cures. The problem with Lyme disease, for example, is that even after patients take the recommended course of antibiotics, 10 to 20 percent of them suffer from ongoing symptoms like joint paint, neurological impairment and fatigue. Rajadas designed a study to test 4,366 of FDA-approved drug compounds in various concentrations on cultured samples of the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, to see if there were better Lyme-killing drugs already on the market.

The results, published in 2016 in the journal Drug Design, Development and Therapy, were impressive; his team found 20 compounds that blocked the growth of B. burgdorferi between 95 and 99.8 percent in the lab.

The team is now collaborating with Tulane University to test the most promising drug candidates in primates before human trials begin. His research scientists are also trying to decipher which biochemicals released by Lyme bacteria induce the “brain fog” symptom that many Lyme patients experience.

Specialized Equipment

The BioADD lab has a wide array of specialized equipment and experienced staff who can assist researchers in drug development. Resources include:

Cryosectioning and mass-spectrophotometry-based assays: The BioADD staff has developed a highly sensitive drug penetration assay that can be used with frozen tissue samples sectioned with its Leica CM1950 Cryostat and analyzed with a mass spectrometer.

Liquid chromatography mass spectrometry facility: The 4000 QTRAP LC/MS/MS System is a Hybrid Triple Quadruple/Linear Ion Trap mass spectrometer, ideal for drug discovery and development, metabolite identification and proteomic applications.

Scanning Probe AFM confocal Raman microscope facility: The NTEGRA Spectra is designed to provide detailed insights from a platform that performs Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Confocal Raman Microscopy, Laser Fluorescence Confocal, Optical Microscopy, Near-field Scanning Optical Microscopy (NSOM) and Tip Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (TERS). It can characterize micro particle and drug hardness and dissolution profiles.

B-290 Mini Spray Dryer: This bench-top spray-drying system quickly dries aqueous and organic solutions with a drying capacity of 1.0 L/hr. It can be used to dry and encapsulate pharmaceuticals.

Fibered confocal fluorescence microscopy (FCFM; Cell-viZio): This optical imaging technique allows for real-time detection of fluorescently labeled cells within live animals, bridging the gap between in vivo whole-body imaging methods and traditional histological examinations. It replaces the objective lens of a microscope with a micro mini-optical probe having a diameter as small as 650 microns, enabling both in vivo and in situ observations.

To learn more about BioADD’s services, visit their website here