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Oklahoma State University

Dr. Ashish Ranjan on INTERACT

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Dr. Ashish Ranjan

Dr. Ashish Ranjan, professor and Kerr Foundation Endowed Chair in the Department of Physiological Sciences, directs the Institute for Translational and Emerging Research in Advanced Comparative Therapy or INTERACT at Oklahoma State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

“The veterinary college has been conducting clinical trials utilizing small and large animals for several years,” Ranjan said. “We also have researchers engaged in therapeutics development and discovering new ways to diagnose various disease conditions in veterinary patients. We decided that we have the perfect environment to develop an institute wherein we are translating bench research into our actual patient population and that’s how the institute was established.

“As director of INTERACT, our short term goals are to kick start clinical trials utilizing the therapeutics that are being developed in the college. We also want to partner with industry and other academic investigators across campus and the country to develop new projects that can either be done in a clinical trials format or the data can be used to apply for extramural grants.

“The institute will greatly impact our ongoing research. Our lab engages in the development of novel therapeutics as well as diagnostic systems that can assist with the treatment and diagnosis of serious diseases in veterinary patients. More specifically, our lab is doing drug development in canine oncology. We feel that translating those drugs to actual patient therapy can have a significant impact on extending our patients’ life span and quality of life.

“INTERACT already has investigators across campus participating in projects. Our goal is to act as a platform that allows researchers to bridge those activities with our clinicians. We hope it will rapidly scale up the speed of our clinical trial activities in the days to come.

“We have already developed partnerships that allow us to conduct cutting edge clinical trials. An example of this is our recent memorandum of understanding with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Through this MOU, we hope to investigate new treatment technologies that involve devices as well as drugs. The veterinary college has pioneered the use of ultrasound for treatment of canine and feline cancers. We hope to partner with an institute like Einstein to further accelerate that process.

“We are also discussing and collaborating with industries on developing novel liquid biopsy technologies that may have a wide impact on how we predict disease outcomes. The college has been at the forefront of COVID research. We have several INTERACT investigators who are understanding how we can better treat COVID utilizing veterinary patients. I believe that doing clinical trials in veterinary patients in parallel with what is happening in humans can rapidly aid the translation of novel therapeutics and the development of novel diagnostic platforms, all of which can have significant impact on human and animal health.

“The institute will likely have a long lasting impact on the way we conduct clinical trials in the college. We believe that by bringing together expertise from different disciplines, it will jump start several new projects in which our faculty would participate. INTERACT will help bridge the gap that currently exists between bench research and clinical research.”

Dr. Ranjan credits Dr. Carlos Risco, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, and main campus administration for their support in establishing this institute.

“I think INTERACT can play an instrumental role in leveraging comparative medicine that benefits both veterinary patients and the human population. There is a significant push to conduct One Health research and INTERACT is the perfect example of such an initiative wherein we are trying to do parallel research in humans and in veterinary patients. Reproductive medicine, oncology, parasitology, and infectious diseases are areas where INTERACT can contribute significantly to help translate bench research into patients. We welcome industry, academic institutions and the general public to partner with us and support this wonderful initiative since it will have a long lasting impact on public health.”

As part of INTERACT, an internal advisory committee was formed. March 1, INTERACT will host its Inaugural INTERACT Eminent Speaker Series featuring Dr. Philip Dormitzer, Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer for Viral Vaccines at Pfizer. Dormitzer led the COVID vaccine effort at Pfizer. Future speakers in the series will come from various research backgrounds and share their experiences in comparative medicine.

The Institute for Translational and Emerging Research in Advanced Comparative Therapy (INTERACT) aims to fulfill One Health research by conducting parallel investigations in both humans and animals. INTERACT promotes interdisciplinary research within the veterinary college, across the OSU campus and throughout the state and nation by developing and translating discoveries into therapies for patients. INTERACT has faculty participants from almost all OSU colleges, industry experts, foundation partners, and personnel from other academic institutions around the country. For more information, visit INTERACT or contact interact@okstate.edu.

MEDIA CONTACT: Derinda Blakeney, APR | OSU College of Veterinary Medicine | 405-744-6740 | derinda@okstate.edu

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