WVU to close drug testing research center

MORGANTOWN — WVU is closing its drug testing research center on Chestnut Ridge Road, behind Suburban Lanes and right next to Mylan Pharmaceuticals.

But’s it not so much an ending as a new beginning.

WVU Health Sciences is moving beyond the work of the Clinical and Pharmacologic Research Center (CPRC), as it’s called, to an expanded and farther reaching Center of Excellence for Clinical Trials.

Clay Marsh, vice president and executive dean for Health Sciences, said the CPRC program formed before he arrived.

The CPRC conducted phase-1 clinical drug safety trials to bring new, less expensive therapies to people. It worked with big partners, such as Mylan, often to bring brand-name drugs to generic form.

That type of contract work will continue, he said.

But the Center of Excellence will be involved in other high-impact clinical trials “so that we can start to advance the fields that we’re trying to impact — such as neuroscience, cancer, coronary care, children’s and women’s programs.

Investigators at WVU will work with various agencies and organizations, and with the FDA “to try to really do some very creative and very innovative and high impact studies,” perhaps to be the first in world to bring new ideas to patients.

An example, Marsh said, is WVU’s recently announced selection as the first site for an innovative clinical trial to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Ali Rezai, director of the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, will lead the initiative in collaboration with INSIGHTEC, an Israel-based medical technology company who received approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin the clinical trial using focused ultrasound to treat Alzheimer’s by disrupting the blood-brain barrier in the regions of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s.

Allie Karshenas, associate vice president of clinical research operations and institutional advancement and the clinical director of operations for the CPRC, said there have been more than 90 studies conducted at the CPRC with an average of 40 participants per study. The number fluctuates based on the type of study being conducted.

The building on Chestnut Ridge Road, Marsh said, will be vacated effective Sept. 30. The Center of Excellence will be housed in the Health Sciences Center.

The CPRC employs 16 people and WVU is working to accommodate them with jobs in the new framework, and hire more for the expanded focus.

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