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Drug Resistance Research

Drug resistance research at UMass Medical School spans many departments and programs, from basic research to translational and clinical research, and many disease states. The research programs supported by IDR’s mission can be broadly categorized into antivirals, antimicrobials, and oncology, although there are many parallels and overlaps between these areas. Approximately 40 faculty at UMMS are contributing to research in drug resistance. Funded research efforts range from single investigator projects to large collaborations involving many research laboratories. 

Drug resistance is a major obstacle in modern medicine, negatively impacting the lives of millions of patients and costing our society billions of dollars each year. In many cases resistance to drugs develops so rapidly that our most valuable drugs become obsolete shortly after their introduction to clinic. Therapy for numerous diseases have been significantly impacted by the emergence and spread of drug resistance; resistance occurs to anti-microbial (MRSA and TB), anti-viral (HIV, HCV, and influenza), anti-malarial, anti-fungal and anti-cancer (melanoma, breast cancer, and lung cancer) agents frequently leading to treatment failure.

The strategies for addressing drug resistance are common regardless of the organism, some of these common strategies include:

  • Basic Research: Strategize how best to regulate drug pumps. Develop strategies on how best to develop new inhibitors
  • Translational Research: Elucidate and regulate the competition between different bacterial species to keep invading species at bay – such as combining epidemiology research in nursing homes with studies of the microbiome
  • Health Care Delivery: Ascertain the most effective strategies on how to evaluate and use combination treatments, which might involve repurposing of drugs