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Inventions and Discoveries

For more than 150 years, our faculty, students and postdocs have been making discoveries that advance the pharmaceutical industry and change the lives of people around the world.

Annual Numbers

Research Funding: $20 M

Royalties/Patent Revenue: $3 M

31 Patent Applications; 6 Patents and 11 Licenses/Options Issued

Summary of Drug Development Areas in the College

  • Cancer/Oncology (BCG TICE, Silvestrol, HDAC & HKMT inhibitors, novel salicylate analogs, anti-proliferative natural products)
  • Contraceptives (Amphora)
  • CNS/Neurotherapeutics (synthetic molecules, HDAC inhibitors, CaMKII inhibitors, Serotonin 5HT2c receptor agonist)
  • Inflammatory (HDAC inhibitors)
  • Cardiology/Sleep apnea (reformulated drug; preclinical testing)
  • Anti-infectives (novel antibiotics and small molecule antibiotics, macrolids, protease inhibitors, natural products inhibiting viral replication)
  • Drug delivery  (targeted and non-specific)
  • Diagnostics (biomimetic circulating tumor cells detection device; warfarin SNPs)

Select inventions and discoveries are described below.

BCG Tice/TICE® (tuberculosis and bladder cancer immunotherapy)

Amphora® (topical contraceptive)

NAPRALERT® (database for medicinal natural product information)

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BCG Tice/TICE® (tuberculosis and bladder cancer immunotherapy)

BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guérin), an attenuated strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis subsp. bovis, was developed by Calmette and Guérin in 1921 as a vaccine against tuberculosis in humans. Although over 2 billion people have been immunized with BCG, and it is currently an officially recommended vaccine in more than 180 countries, excluding the U.S., the efficacy of BCG as a vaccine against tuberculosis remains controversial.  BCG has also been found to have antitumor properties and has been accepted as the most effective agent in clinical use against non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC).  BCG vaccine is also currently being tested in phase II clinical trial for reversal of type 1 diabetes.

Various genetically distinct strains of BCG are used for the treatment of NMIBC around the world as the result of distribution of the original BCG Pasteur, developed in Paris.  BCG Tice strain was developed at the UIC Institute for Tuberculosis Research (ITR) by Dr. Sol Roy Rosenthal in 1950 and named after his Cook County Hospital mentor, Dr. Frederick Tice.  BCG Tice is one of two most widely used strains for bladder cancer immunotherapy in North America and across Europe. TICE® is a registered trademark owned by the University of Illinois and licensed to Organon Teknika Corporation LLC, now part of Merck. 

The Institute for Tuberculosis Research at the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy was established by Illinois State Statue in 1949 "for the production, distribution and application of the bacillus Calmette Guerin, (BCG) and other methods and materials for the prevention of Tuberculosis and for conducting research in tuberculosis ."  Dr. Sol Roy Rosenthal (b. 1903-1995) was the first Director of ITR.  In 1972, FDA licensed ITR to manufacture BCG Tice.  In 1998, FDA approved BCG vaccine for treatment of bladder cancer and UIC partnered with Organon (now Merck) to produce the vaccine.

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Amphora® (non-hormonal topical contraceptive)

Amphora (clinically known as Acidform) is a non-hormonal contraceptive gel that creates a hostile environment to sperm by maintaining a low vaginal pH and blocking sperm function.  Amphora was originally developed by the Topical Prevention of Conception and Disease (TOPCAD) Program in Chicago by Dr. Don Waller (UIC) and a team of Rush investigators.  It was licensed to Instead, Inc. (now Evofem, Inc.) in 2002 and approved by the FDA as a lubricant in 2004.  Amphora recently completed a large, multicenter, open-label, randomized, Phase III trial that examined the repeated use of Amphora gel as the primary method of contraception.  Evofem, Inc. filed a New Drug Application (NDA) for Amphora's use as a non-hormonal vaginal gel contraceptive with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).   Amphora is also being investigated for its microbicidal properties.

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NAPRALERT®, an online database for medicinal natural product information

The NAPRALERT® is the world’s first comprehensive searchable database of ethnobotany, pharmacology, chemistry, toxicology, and clinical trials on medicinal plants. NAPRALERT was created in 1975 by the late Norman R. Farnsworth, Ph.D. More than 200,000 scientific reviews and articles are on NAPRALERT and contain information on natural products and the organisms which produce them. 

  • Includes clinical trials with natural products More than 20,000 species of plants and related ethnomedical information
  • Information on chemoprevention, anti-inflammatory activity, metabolism, pharmacokinetics, and insecticide potential
  • Natural products and tropical diseases, antiviral activity including HIV/AIDS, antitubercular activity
  • Natural products and their effects on reproduction and sugar metabolism

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