Lohocla: Past to Present
Dr. Boris Tabakoff founded Lohocla Research Corporation to translate his basic science discoveries to the clinic in 1983 in Chicago, Illinois.
Lohocla began with the goal of translating research findings to the problem of protecting individuals from the damaging effects of alcohol, which includes the development of
- biomarkers that reflect hazardous alcohol consumption levels (even without concurrent organ damage),
- therapeutic interventions to protect heavy drinkers from liver damage, and
- genetic markers for predisposition to depression (often comorbid with alcohol addiction) and alcohol abuse.
Because Dr. Tabakoff joined the federal government as the Scientific Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, there was a hiatus in Lohocla’s research endeavors. After eight years of government service, Dr. Tabakoff returned to private life and resumed the development of Lohocla in 1993. The company quickly undertook new research ventures, including the development of genetic tests for predisposition to depression and alcohol addiction and the development of medications for chronic pain and addiction/craving.
Lohocla used rational drug design to identify therapeutic targets important for the etiology of alcohol abuse/addiction, and chronic pain. In both of these conditions, maladaptive changes occur in neural systems. A key insight is that targeting a single neuronal molecule to control the complex physiological systems that underlie addiction and chronic pain can result in limited efficacy. These physiological systems are represented by network models in which a partial inhibition of more than one target can be more efficient than the complete inhibition of a single target. Using computationally based, rational drug design approaches, we originally designed a molecular scaffold as the foundation for a series of molecules that would be useful in preventing alcohol withdrawal induced nervous system hyperexcitability and damage. One of these multi-target molecules has been found to reduce alcohol consumption by alcohol-dependent individuals (reduces alcohol relapse), and another controls pain that is a result of maladaptive consequences of nerve injury without eliminating normal, protective pain responses.
An estimated 80 million Americans drink alcohol at hazardous or harmful levels, and approximately 18 million individuals are alcohol dependent. In 2011, it was estimated that chronic pain affects at least 100 million adults in the United States. Lohocla is pursuing a strategy to meet the treatment needs of these patients. Dr. Tabakoff’s continuing research interest has focused on the molecular and genetic mechanisms of alcohol and drug abuse. Dr. Tabakoff’s research resulted in several patents pertinent to the company’s current research activities.
In addition, Lohocla has recently discovered derivatives of the chronic pain medication that may be useful in preventing cancer metastasis.
Currently, Lohocla employs nine scientists and administrators, and its research laboratories are housed in the Bioscience Park Center adjoining the University of Colorado School of Medicine at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado.
Lohocla’s current research is supported by an NIH medications-development grant for treatment of alcohol addiction (lead compound “Nezavist”) from the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA/NIH), and a cooperative joint grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA/NIH) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders And Stroke (NINDS/NIH) to develop the company’s lead compound Kindolor®, a chronic pain and opiate-sparing medication as well as a contractual agreement with Mediagnost, a company headquartered in Tübingen, Germany.