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January 9, 2013

ULM professor awarded over $420,000 to develop olive-based cancer inhibitor

The National Institutes of Health awarded Dr. Khalid El Sayed, associate professor of pharmacy at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, $420,520 for his research project, “Design of novel c-Met inhibitors inspired by olive phenolics.”

ULM President Dr. Nick J. Bruno said, “I am very proud of Dr. El Sayed and what he has accomplished thus far. The continuation of these kinds of grants will further build his reputation as a researcher. This also signifies the importance of our College of Pharmacy and its relevance to the state, the region, and the university as a whole.”

The research project will use a natural compound found in extra virgin olive oil and other related natural compounds as possible dietary supplements to control breast cancer and to enhance the therapeutic effects of current anticancer drugs.

"Dr. El Sayed continues to have success in the area of cancer therapeutics discovery and development from natural products," said Dr. Benny Blaylock, Dean of the College of Pharmacy.

"The information from this research will add important information for use in both treatment and prevention of breast and prostate cancer. The College of Pharmacy is very proud of the research being done by Dr. El Sayed and other members of the Department of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences."

The research is derived from studies focused on the eating habits and disease occurrence of those living in the Mediterranean, El Sayed said.

“Nature is still the single most important drug source,” said El Sayed.

"About 75 percent of today’s anticancer drugs are natural products or based on natural origin. The Mediterranean diet includes extensive use of olive oil in its ingredients, which correlates to lower incidences of cardiovascular disease, age-related cognitive disease and cancer.”

The project also includes the use of computer software to make new synthetic compounds similar to the olive-derived compounds. The synthetic compounds will have significant improvement in anticancer activity, El Sayed said.

“These compounds showed activity against several metastatic prostate and breast cancers,” said El Sayed. “The proposed research will develop novel c-Met—an important enzyme for several metastatic tumor types—and cancer inhibitors for future pre-clinical and clinical studies.”

El Sayed explained his expectations for the project. “Our long-term goal is to utilize the ability of olive oil to inhibit the activation of the c-Met enzyme and use it as a dietary supplement to synergize the effects of chemotherapeutics.”

El Sayed continued, “This project would not have been successful without the thoughtful contribution, support, and hard work of collaborators and graduate students from the ULM College of Pharmacy. Faculty members of the ULM College of Pharmacy believe they have the talent, persistence, skills, experience, and knowledge to achieve the establishment of a 'Louisiana Drug Discovery Center' in collaboration with other Louisiana institutions. This success is a step forward towards this direction.”

While at ULM, El Sayed has received $1,180,000 in research support from Louisiana Biomedical Research Network, Philip Morris, the American Society of Pharmacognosy, the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education, and several small companies.

He has also received $278,000 from the Louisiana Board of Regents for equipment funding.

In collaboration with his pharmacy colleagues, El Sayed has been awarded three U.S. patents for cancer research.

He has taught at ULM since 2001.

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