Cancer Drug Discovery & Development Accelerator

A platform for integrated drug discovery and translation

When Lawrence Einhorn, MD, developed the cure for testicular cancer in the early 1970s, he gave hope to thousands of patients around the world and inspired countless cancer researchers to develop other therapies that might one day cure other cancers.

In 2019, IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center launched the Cancer Drug Discovery and Development Accelerator (CD3A) initiative, with the goal of integrating emerging technologies/equipment and computational tools for new drug discovery and development.

The CD3A division of the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center operates as a non-profit organization that accelerates drug discovery and development by bringing together university researchers, experienced pharmaceutical industry veterans, technology cores, and external research organizations.

Led by program co-leaders Chafiq Hamdouchi, PhD, and Mark Kelley, PhD, our primary focus is expanding accessible molecular space and drug development capabilities across and within our research cores.

40+projects in the pipeline

40+Faculty Researchers Who Received Assistance Through CD3A

Team Science: Kelvin Lee, MD

Targeting PIM2 and its Regulation of the c‐Myc Oncogene in Multiple Myeloma and Other Cancers

Multiple myeloma (MM) is a malignancy of plasma cells that is the second most common hematologic malignancy (20% of all cases) and remains incurable for almost all patients. The primary cause of treatment failure is upregulation of pro‐survival resistance mechanisms. Identifying these mechanisms remains key for any new therapeutic development.

Kelvin Lee, MD

Dr. Lee, et al. have shown that the serine‐threonine kinase PIM2 has a major prosurvival role in MM, and that their first‐in‐class PIM2‐selective, non‐ATP‐competitive allosteric inhibitors demonstrated significant MM cell death in vitro and were efficacious in preclinical in vivo xenograft  models of MM. Their findings suggest a completely novel mechanism where their drug candidates disrupt a PIM2 interaction with a partner protein, resulting in downregulation of c‐Myc expression and loss of c‐Myc driven PIM2 gene expression. 

The team is currently in the Lead Optimization phase, conducting advanced characterization of their drug candidates with the aim of identifying and developing potent, selective, and orally bioavailable PIM2 modulators whose preclinical efficacy, safety, and pharmacokinetic profiles will enable  clinical exploration of efficacy and safety in patients with multiple myeloma and other cancers.

Team Science: Elliot Androphy & Samy Meroueh

Targeting HPV-16 E6 Protein

Cervical cancer is one of the leading world causes of cancer morbidity and mortality in woman, with more than 98% related to a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection origin.

Elliot Androphy
Samy Meroueh

Over the past four years, with support of grants from Indiana University Health, the Indiana Drug Discovery Alliance, IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute/NIH, Professors Elliot Androphy (Dermatology) and Samy Meroueh (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) have collaborated on a project to develop small molecules that inhibit the HPV-16 E6 protein by combining structure based drug design, medicinal chemistry, and development of new biochemical and cellular assays. Inhibition of this viral protein stops HPV replication and induces death of HPV-expressing cells. After multiple iterations of design and testing, their novel compounds show significant anti-tumor activity in xenotransplantation experiments. Such a breakthrough provides a unique opportunity for the treatment of women with cervical HPV infections including cancer in situ, all populations with anal and genital HPV-16 infections, and cancers of the oropharynx, cervix, anal canal, and genitalia due to HPV-16. HPV induced cancers cause 4.5% of all malignancies worldwide and lead to the death of > 600,000 people annually.

Drs. Androphy and Meroueh, along with Dr. Zhijian Lu, are co-founders of Kovina Therapeutics Inc.

Crystal Baker,
CD3A Translational Research Coordinator & Project Manager, IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center


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