James S. Hagood, MD, professor in the UNC Department of Pediatrics and Director of the Program for Rare and Interstitial Lung Disease of the UNC Children’s Research Institute and Marsico Lung Institute, has been selected as a Harrington Scholar-Innovator for his work on a therapeutic Strategy for pulmonary fibrosis.
James S. Hagood, MD, professor in the UNC Department of Pediatrics and Director of the Program for Rare and Interstitial Lung Disease of the UNC Children’s Research Institute and Marsico Lung Institute, has been awarded a grant from the Harrington Discovery Institute for a research project titled, “Thy-1 Mimicry as a Therapeutic Strategy for Pulmonary Fibrosis.”
“Progressive pulmonary fibrosis (PPF) is an often fatal complication of many acute and chronic lung diseases, including COVID-19,” Dr. Hagood explains. “Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, one of the most common and deadly forms of PPF, progresses to either lung transplantation or death within a few years for most people affected. Existing FDA approved drugs slow the disease process but do not reverse the scarring of the lungs. Many major pharmaceutical companies have identified fibrosis as a priority area for drug development. Work done in our lab over two decades identified the protein Thy-1 as a strong suppressor of fibrotic scarring, by changing the scar-forming potential of fibroblasts, the cells responsible for wound healing. A soluble form of Thy-1 is able to reverse established fibrosis in several laboratory models. Our collaborator, Dr. Ronit Freeman (UNC Applied Physical Sciences) developed molecular mimics for Thy-1 with potent antifibrotic activity, forming the basis for development of new and potentially highly effective fibrosis-reversing therapies for PPF. We will refine and test these in a highly relevant “disease in a dish” model, in preparation for identifying the ideal version for testing in clinical trials. This approach has high potential to generate therapies that can improve and extend the lives of individuals suffering with PPF.”
Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio — part of The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development — was established in 2012 to accelerate the development of new treatments to address major unmet needs in medicine and society. Harrington Scholar-Innovators are accomplished physician-scientists whose research demonstrates innovation, creativity and potential for clinical impact. In addition to grant funding, Harrington provides guidance and oversight in drug development, while intellectual property is retained by the scholar and their institution.
The selected scholars have access to several rounds of capital and have the opportunity to qualify for up to a total of $1.1 million in funding. In addition, scholars have facilitated access to Harrington’s mission-aligned commercial entities, Advent-Harrington Impact Fund and BioMotiv, and to its charitable partner Morgan Stanley GIFT Cures.
Read more about the other scholars at the institute’s website.