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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI professor awarded patent for new compound
to treat brain illnesses

KINGSTON, R.I.-August 10, 1999 -- James Jacob of Saunderstown, R.I., an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Rhode Island, has been awarded a patent for new compounds that have potential for the treatment of brain illnesses such as Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia and other types of psychotic disorders, without the damaging side effects of existing medications.

These compounds, derivatives of octahydrobenzo[f]quinoline, act on specific areas of the brain known as dopamine receptors. Some of these receptors release dopamine, a chemical central to many brain functions; others absorb it. Imbalances in the level of dopamine can result in the uncontrollable jerking movements associated with Parkinson's, as well as the psychotic thinking associated with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

"These compounds can be used to treat psychotic disorders and Parkinson's disease, and act as sedatives," said Jacob. "The major benefit of these compounds are that they do not appear to cause the side effects of medications already on the market." These might include extrapyramidal side effects, such as unwanted movement and drooling, as well as agranulocytosis, a precipitous drop in the white blood cell count that can be fatal if not treated.

Further testing on these compounds is being conducted by Jacob and his partner, Mark Froimowitz, who now works at the company which has licensed the compound, Pharm-Eco in Massachusetts.

The next step is to find a pharmaceutical company willing to conduct further research on the compound and to bring it to clinical trial, where it will be tested on patients. "We're optimistic that these compounds will continue to show promise," said Jacob.

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For More Information: Jan Sawyer, 874-2116

 

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