Rho's Medical Director Marks One Year Anniversary, Focuses on CNS drug research

Rho's Medical Director Marks One Year Anniversary, Focuses on CNS drug research

Dr. Herbert Harris sees a renewed interest within the pharmaceutical industry in traditional psychiatric areas as well as new opportunities across the spectrum of CNS disorders

Chapel Hill, N.C. (July 23, 2013) – Rho's medical director, Dr. Herbert Harris, is celebrating his first year at the North Carolina-based contract research organization (CRO) which helps bring new drugs and medical devices to market through a full range of clinical research services.  Dr. Harris brought over 20 years experience in drug development to Rho including design, conduct, and medical monitoring of numerous Phase 2 and 3 trials in psychiatric and neurological indications. With a renewed interest in traditional neuropsychiatric diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, autism and schizophrenia, Dr. Harris has been focused on expanding Rho's involvement in central nervous system (CNS) research and drug development since joining the company last July.

"It's hard to believe I have been with Rho for a year," states Dr. Harris.  "Our team has made tremendous strides when it comes to re-evaluating how CNS drug trials are designed and the methodologies being used.  I am fortunate to work for a CRO that can take a nimble approach to CNS drug development and research so that we can quickly and effectively provide life-saving medication to patients," added Dr. Harris.

Prior to joining Rho, Dr. Harris spent five years at the National Institute of Health (NIH) conducting basic and clinical research in Alzheimer's disease and other CNS disorders.  He subsequently joined the industry where his experience ranges from drug discovery to commercialization. It is in this field that Dr. Harris sees the greatest potential for drug development, which includes:

  • Schizophrenia

We are at a time of unprecedented opportunity as our understanding of neuroscience is being translated into novel drug targets. For example, in the mid-2000s, a consortium was formed in which the FDA, academia and pharmaceutical companies came together and built a consensus within the field that cognitive deficits are a legitimate possibility for drug development. This exposed a new dimension of the disorder that had previously been inaccessible to drug developers.

  • Depression

Although many new medicines were developed for depression, it remains an area of very high unmet medical need and it remains one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Treatment-resistant depression was the focus of a major NIMH study (STAR*D), and now treatment-resistant depression is a key target for antidepressant development. In addition, development of faster acting antidepressants has become a promising area of active drug development.

  • Alzheimer's Disease

While there are promising drugs being developed, the failure of several recent clinical trials has prompted Dr. Harris and other experts in the industry to believe the drug testing is occurring too late in the progression of the disease. There is a need to shift the focus to an earlier stage of development of the disease. Re-adjusting the timeline to intervene in an earlier timeframe demands different methodologies, including earlier diagnostics and sensitive biomarkers that can track disease progression.  "When you think about designing clinical trials in which we intervene 5 to 10 years sooner than in the current treatment paradigms, it is clear that there is a lot of opportunity to discover new insights for prevention and treatment. Rho is uniquely situated to facilitate this discovery and development process," says Harris.

  • Autism

                According to Dr. Harris, Autism is an area with a lot of opportunity. He sees genetics and biology rapidly converging in this disorder, and Rho has accumulated a critical mass of experience working with Big Pharma on potential drugs for treating symptoms of autism.

Also according to Dr. Harris, the CNS field is rapidly evolving. "New players are getting into the game, refocusing energy on CNS research and drug development. It is a very exciting time to be in this field."

To learn more about Rho and their CNS experience, please visit www.rhoworld.com.

About Rho

Rho, a privately-held, contract research organization (CRO) located in Chapel Hill, NC, provides a full range of clinical research services across the entire drug development process. For more than 25 years, Rho has been a trusted partner to some of the industry's leading pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies as well as academic and government organizations. Our commitment to excellence, our innovative technologies, and our therapeutic expertise accelerate time to market, maximize returns on investment, and lead to an exceptional customer experience. Please follow us on Twitter.