Clinical Repurposing Trials for COVID-19 and Cerebral Palsy Underway in Chicago

Trials at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Demonstrate Chicago's Continued Biomedical Strength
CHICAGO - Sept. 29, 2020 - PRLog -- Dr. Richard Lieber, chief scientific officer for Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and his project for cerebral palsy won Cures Within Reach's CureAccelerator Live! for Chicago virtual philanthropic pitch event on September 15.

Cures Within Reach and its funding partner the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust also recently approved funding for two COVID-19 clinical trials in Chicagoland, one based at Northwestern University looking to reduce symptom progression in newly diagnosed patients using fluvoxamine, and the other at the University of Chicago focusing on health disparities: reducing the number of newly diagnosed patients in Black and Latinx communities through vitamin D supplementation.

Cures Within Reach, a leading global nonprofit focused on improving patient quality and length of life by leveraging the speed, safety and cost-effectiveness of medical repurposing research, organized CureAccelerator Live!, where four finalists from research institutions across the Chicago area pitched their clinical repurposing projects, and attendees helped to select the winner of a $50,000 research grant.

Dr. Lieber's winning project, "Repurposing a blood cancer treatment to treat muscle contractures in cerebral palsy patients," may lead to a new paradigm for nonsurgical treatment of muscle contracture by "biologically enabling" muscles with a cancer treatment, which is available as a generic.

"Congratulations to Richard Lieber, PhD of Shirley Ryan AbilityLab for his exemplary approach to putting innovation into practice and winning CureAccelerator Live!," said Karie Thomson, Searle Consultant to the Chicago Community Trust. "Cures Within Reach is a crucial partner in fostering innovation here in Chicago. Because of their work, absolutely vital breakthroughs can happen. There is no more important example of this than the upcoming clinical trials of COVID-19 treatments at Northwestern and the University of Chicago. Supporting research talent here makes such rapid responses possible."

"The randomized trial we will launch with the support of Cures Within Reach is urgently needed to understand whether vitamin D can reduce the risk and severity of COVID-19," said David Meltzer, MD, PhD, chief of hospital medicine at University of Chicago Medicine and lead researcher of the COVID-19 trial funded by Cures Within Reach.  "Their rapid support of this project and thoughtful partnership has already been invaluable in bringing us closer to the answers we need."

"We are thrilled to fund these three Chicago-based clinical repurposing trials, in partnership with the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust," said Barbara Goodman, Cures Within Reach's President & CEO.  "Together, these demonstrate our region's capabilities to impact patients with the speed and cost-effectiveness that repurposing provides, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and for families impacted by cerebral palsy – who are also in crisis-mode looking for treatments to unsolved diseases."

In addition to Dr. Lieber's project, the other finalists included:
  • Sadiya Khan, MD from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine presenting "Combining 3 diuretic drugs for heart failure patients"
  • André Lindsey, PhD from Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital presenting "Using EEG as a tool to better assess recovery following brain injury"
  • Margaret Liotta, DO from Loyola University Medical Center presenting "Repurposing a blood pressure drug for the treatment of recurrent chemo resistant ovarian cancer"
Expert Panelists from industry, clinical healthcare, academia and regulatory helped attendees make a more informed voting decision, and included representatives from Advocate Health Care, RoundTable Healthcare Partners, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the US FDA and the University of Chicago.

In addition to the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, support comes from other members of Cures Within Reach's Chicago Repurposing Community, including Brand Institute, Fujifilm Pharmaceuticals, Golan Christie Taglia LLP, Horizon Therapeutics, Judy Hirsch Foundation, PhRMA, Recordati Rare Diseases, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, TerSera Therapeutics and the Walder Foundation.

About Cures Within Reach (
Cures Within Reach (CWR) is a US-based philanthropic leader that improves patient quality and length of life by leveraging the speed, safety and cost-effectiveness of medical repurposing research, driving more treatments to more patients more quickly. CWR catalyzes research to facilitate and validate repurposing opportunities that create clinical impact. Through repurposing, CWR drives both market impact and health savings to patients and patient groups, from academia/researchers, with payers and the healthcare industry and with support from the government, philanthropy and others. CWR currently has a global portfolio of 20 repurposing research projects at 17 institutions in 15 diseases. Visit (

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