Drugs based on MAO or serotonin research
Hungarian Professor Joseph Knoll synthesized I-deprenyl / selegiline, the first selective MAO B inhibitor, in his Budapest laboratory in 1961. Dr, Knoll has researched its properties for almost half a century.
Prozac was invented at Eli Lilly by a team comprised of Drs. David T. Wong, Ray W. Fuller and Bryan B. Molloy.
More than 40 years ago, David Wong’s father gave him this advice: Go, and find a career that will benefit humankind. David took his father’s words to heart and became a research neuroscientist (see neuroscience) at Eli Lilly and Company. His desire to ease human suffering motivated his work, which culminated in his role in developing the modern antidepressant Prozac, now used by more than 30 million people worldwide. For his groundbreaking work related to Prozac, David received the 1993 Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association Discoverer’s Award.
Born in Hong Kong, David studied chemistry at National Taiwan University before coming to the United States to enroll at Seattle Pacific University. His years at Seattle Pacific deeply influenced his life, as did the two professors who made up the entire Chemistry Department. “They were very caring and outstanding teachers,” says David. “Their sacrifice allowed us to succeed.” David also learned what it meant to serve others. He was active in the Chinese Christian Fellowship and a gospel team on campus. “We worked in the missions of downtown Seattle,” he remembers. “We developed a sense of servanthood.”
He joined the Eli Lilly and Company staff as a senior biochemist in 1968. Although he has worked on many projects at Lilly during his 30-year career, none has received more attention than Prozac. The “Prozac revolution” began in 1987 when the FDA approved its use in the United States. Almost overnight, the drug became world-famous. Today, it is prescribed to millions of people suffering from depression.
“David Wong is a world-class scientist, yet he’s a humble and decent man,” says SPU President Philip Eaton. “He also truly cherishes his experience at Seattle Pacific. He is a wonderful example of our mission. Lives do change here – and in turn our alumni go on to change other lives. If you want to understand the true SPU vision, just look at David Wong.”
Professor Moussa Youdim
Prof. Youdim is associated with the Eve Topf and National Parkinson Foundation Centers of Excellence for Neurodegenerative Diseases Research and Teaching, which are an independent extension of the Department of Pharmacology at Technion-Rappaport Faculty of Medicine. They have a close interaction with the Rappaport Family Research Institute, which is dedicated in advancing the understanding of neuropsychiatric disorders, especially, neurodegenerative diseases. The Centers’ primary goal is to use cellular and animal models to explain why and how neurons degenerate and to develop novel drugs to prevent this degeneration from happening. This rescue mission is accomplished by using both conventional and new biochemical techniques combined with chemistry, molecular biology, genomics and proteomics. This approach has led to identification and development of several new neuroprotective anti-Parkinson and anti-Alzheimer drugs including rasagiline, TV3326 and (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). MAO inhibitors are still used in treating Parkinson’s disease.