Accelerating Breakthrough Discoveries into Medicines

Benjamin M. Gaston, MD

Dr. Gaston is developing a treatment for respiratory depression.

Benjamin Gaston, MD is chief of the Division of Pulmonary Medicine and chief of the Division of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. He is also the Children’s Lung Foundation Professor of Pediatric Pulmonology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Respiratory depression is most commonly caused by drugs used for analgesia and sedation in perioperative, critical care and trauma/battlefield settings Respiratory depression can result in death or prolonged use of mechanical ventilation, and an increase has also been observed in the number of unintentional deaths caused by narcotics in outpatient pain management. Moreover, there are many inherited and acquired conditions that cause chronically impaired respiratory drive. All of these factors contribute to the current healthcare expenditures in the United States related to impaired respiratory drive, which are in excess of $1 billion annually. As it stands, the only effective therapy is positive pressure ventilation Dr. Gaston and his team believe that their novel respiratory stimulant will be a major breakthrough when it is translated into clinical practice. They have screened thiol-containing compounds as respiratory stimulants, because their work has shown that thiols can accept nitrosonium from desaturating hemoglobin to form compounds which stimulate respiratory drive. From this screening they identified a lead compound that is now in preclinical small animal testing. It stimulates respiratory drive and overcomes narcotic-induced respiratory depression, and remarkably, it does not blunt analgesia.

They anticipate being seeing efficacy in low therapeutic doses in humans with parenteral, transdermal and/or oral preparations. Dr. Gaston has identified several high-volume inpatient and outpatient markets, and he believes that his therapy will reduce hospital costs by decreasing anesthesia and critical care times, fewer ventilator days and less morbidity) and significantly decrease mortality.

Dr. Gaston earned his undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Virginia. He completed a residency in Pediatrics at National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD, and was Chief Resident in Pediatrics and at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He did his fellowship training at Children's Hospital, Boston, under the mentorship of Dr. Jeffrey Drazen and the late Dr. Mary Ellen Wohl. He has published more than 140 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Nature, The Journal of Clinical Investigation and The Lancet, and authored more than a dozen chapters. He also holds 10 patents and has additional patent applications and disclosures, including the intellectual property relevant to this Harrington Discovery Institute project.

Dates to Know

April 5, 2017
Letter of Intent Deadline

LOI Guidelines
Download the Application Guidelines (PDF)

May 31, 2017
Full Application Deadline (For those invited)

December 2017
Awardees Notified

Harrington Project

The Harrington Discovery Institute is the nonprofit arm of the Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, an international initiative supporting breakthrough research by physician-scientists. The Project is a new and powerful approach to address some of the challenges hindering advancement of medicine today.

The Harrington Grant is an important part of the overall pharmaceutical research initiative created by The Harrington Project.

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