– Dr. Joshua Rokach, Florida Tech Chemistry Professor and Director of the Claude Pepper Institute, has been awarded a four-year $1.3 million research grant
from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute will allow Dr. Rokach to continue his studies on
chronic inflammatory diseases.
Rokach’s research will focus on the enzymatic reaction of 5-hydroxyeicosanoid dehydrogenase in certain types of white blood cells, or leukocytes, which
contributes to such diseases as asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis. The research will center on the design and synthesis of radio- and
photo-affinity ligand molecules that can bind to the enzyme catalytic cavity. Such molecules, when irradiated with ultraviolet light, become permanently
bound to the disease-causing enzyme but not to other proteins. When the enzyme is radioactively labeled, it is possible to isolate and determine its
Rokach has received worldwide recognition for the first syntheses of major inflammatory mediators such as leukotrienes and lipoxins, which are responsible
for allergies affecting the lungs and nose. The availability of these synthetic mediators has opened the field to medical research in the areas of allergy
and inflammation. Among his other accomplishments, Rokach was responsible for the development of the drug “Singulair”, a leukotriene-D4 antagonist, used by
millions of allergy sufferers for the relief of asthma and rhinitis symptoms.