Second “first” – PT leads clinical drug study on campus

wetzel, jane

Jane Wetzel, associate professor of Physical Therapy, talks with reporters during a news conference announcing YSU’s first ever clinical drug study.

For the second time this semester, YSU celebrated a “first” in research.

At a press conference in Cushwa Hall, YSU announced that Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals has awarded a research grant of more than $70,000 to Erdal Sarac, medical director at the Centers for Dialysis Care in Canfield, and Jane Wetzel, associate professor of Physical Therapy, to conduct YSU’s first-ever clinical drug study.

“This grant, and the work that will be done on campus as a result, is yet another indicator of YSU’s continued evolution into a research university of growing prominence,” said Martin Abraham, interim provost.

It is the second “first” for YSU this fall. Earlier in the semester, YSU announced that Tom Oder, professor of Physics, was awarded the university’s first-ever federal patent.

The Mallinckrodt grant will fund a study to evaluate the impact H.P. Acthar® Gel may have on kidney function, nutritional status, quality of life and physical performance for people with end stage renal disease.

The idea for the study came from Sarac and is an outgrowth of research that he initiated and conducted last year with Wetzel under a grant from the Medical Research Council at St. Elizabeth Health Center. The results of that study were presented at the National Kidney Foundation Spring Clinical Meetings earlier this year in Las Vegas.

“It is well known that people with end stage renal disease who undergo dialysis have decreased strength and poor physical functioning that place them at risk for falls, hospitalization and mortality,” said Wetzel, who came to YSU in 2009 after earning a PhD in Exercise Physiology from the University of Pittsburgh. “We hope to determine what impact Acthar Gel can have to decrease those risks.”

Suzanne Giuffre, associate professor of Physical Therapy, and Rachael Pohle-Krauza, associate professor of Human Ecology, are also involved in the research.

Under the study, about 30 non-diabetic subjects who have been on dialysis less than five years will receive varying dosages of the drug. They will then be evaluated every three months for kidney function, nutritional status and physical performance. The study will take two to three years to complete.