Merrie Mosedale, Ph.D., a research assistant professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, has been awarded the $35,000 Sternfels Prize for Drug Safety Innovation for her proposal to find a molecular “fingerprint” to help identify people at risk for idiosyncratic, or unexplained, adverse drug reactions. Mosedale is a member of the UNC Institute for Drug Safety Sciences.
The Sternfels Prize was created to encourage researchers to find ways to make using pharmaceuticals less risky. It is awarded to the most important and testable idea to reduce life-threatening drug-drug, drug-disease or pharmacogenomic interactions.
Mosedale’s research focuses on drug-induced liver injury, or DILI, that can range from mild biochemical abnormalities to acute liver failure. High doses of acetaminophen, for example, will cause DILI in most people. But smaller groups of patients can suffer idiosyncratic liver injury from drugs that won’t cause toxicity in most people.
For example, the combination of amoxicillin and clavulanate, known as co-amoxiclav or Augmentin, is an oral antibiotic widely used to treat bacterial infections. The World Health Organization considers it an essential medicine, but co-amoxiclav is the most common cause of non-acetaminophen drug-induced liver injury in both in the United States and Europe. It happens in about one out of every 2,500 prescriptions, and the cause is not well understood.
If successful, Mosedale’s work could lead to a new diagnostic approach to reduce adverse reactions in patients taking co-amoxiclav. Prior to joining UNC, Mosedale was a research investigator at the Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences. She received her B.S. from Duke University and her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego.