World Intellectual Property Day


Ceylan Isgor, Ph.D., and Vijaya Iragavarapu-Charyulu, Ph.D.

World Intellectual Property Day

Women and IP: Accelerating Innovation and Creativity

Vijaya Iragavarapu-Charyulu, Ph.D., and Ceylan Isgor, Ph.D., both faculty in the FAU Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, recently filed a patent application for their novel treatment using veterinary medicines to prolong life for end-stage cancer patients.

“Various treatment options are available for early-stage cancer, the options for late-stage cancers are very limited as all the options have been already used with development of resistance to the existing chemotherapeutics,” said Iragavarapu-Charyulu, professor of biomedical science, who has spent two decades studying cancer and how it spreads or metastasizes.

The researchers said they are particularly interested in triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive cancer with a very low five-year survival rate.

The pair turned to veterinary medicines after Isgor was searching for options to help her sick dog and gave her a high dose of an antiparasitic called fenbendazole. “It completely shrunk the tumor, and the dog lived another three years,” Isgor said, associate professor of biomedical science. From there, she learned of cancer patients who obtained these medicines over the counter to treat their cancer, and even how antiparasitics are used more systematically in countries outside the U.S., like Korea, China, and Japan, she said.

“Repurposed veterinary medicines that have fewer side effects could be the next class of drugs for patients suffering from end-stage cancer,” Iragavarapu-Charyulu said.

Isgor agreed. “There is compelling evidence of this in breast, brain, ovary, prostate and pancreatic cancers coming from the public domain.”

The antiparasitic drugs work on cancer cells by binding to proteins that form long rods of microtubules, which provide structure to the cell, and play a role in the cell’s movement through the body and proliferation. Once the drug binds to the cell’s surface it degrades it and causes toxicity. “The part that is really interesting about these drugs is that they seem to spare healthy cells, they're attracted to aggressive proliferating ones,” Isgor said.

In their novel multi-pronged approach, the researchers combine a type of antiparasitic drug called benzimidazoles with microparticles of chitin, a substance found in crab, shrimp and lobster shells that helps support the anti-tumor immune response by creating a healthy gut microbiome. This means they can directly attack the tumor while supporting the immune system and the gut to better combat the cancer at the same time.

Research shows that the gut microbiome is connected to brain chemistry that impacts mood and neurodegenerative conditions, Isgor said, adding she wants to explore how it could also impact cancer resistance.

“Singular therapies, especially in advanced stages of cancer, are not producing desired anti-cancer effects” Isgor said. “Dr VJ and I explore a multi-system treatment option that targets tumor not only directly but also indirectly via distal organs such as the gut that offer options to folks with no options in the current repertoire of therapies.”

One of the benefits of this approach to using repurposed drugs, Iragavarapu-Charyulu said, is its affordability, and that means it can be developed faster and cheaper for patients.

If you would like more information, please contact us at

April 26
World Intellectual Property Day

World Intellectual Property Day highlights the role of intellectual property rights, such as patents, copyright and trademarks play in inspiring innovation. This year’s theme emphasizes the role of women and intellectual property.

“The treatment regimen developed by Vijaya Iragavarapu-Charyulu, Ph.D., and Ceylan Isgor, Ph.D., have shown the potential to decrease and even reverse metastatic breast disease and prolong survival for patients. Women like Vijaya and Ceylan are driving scientific breakthroughs, but too few of them participate in and benefit from our intellectual property system,” said Dana Vouglitois, associate director, Office of Technology Development at FAU. “We need to shine a light on the valuable contributions of these researchers to encourage more women to use the intellectual property system to protect and add value to their work. That helps us develop more and better innovations for everyone.