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Pelletier Wins AFPE Award to Study Acetaminophen Toxicity

Robert Pelletier left a career in industry to pursue his PhD in Medicinal Chemistry and follow his passion for teaching and research. The American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education (AFPE) has recognized Pelletier’s potential for leadership, and awarded him their 2015 Pre-Doctoral Award in Pharmaceutical Science. The award period begins in September 2015. The stipend of $10,000 will support Pelletier’s research for his thesis project, “Mechanism of CYP2E1 Inhibition by Chlormethiazole.”

CYP2E1 is responsible for the metabolism of certain chemical compounds (i.e., as drugs or pesticides) that are toxic to humans. For example, CYP2E1 bioactivates the over-the-counter drug, acetaminophen, to a reactive, toxic metabolite called NAPQI. During an overdose, the amount of NAPQI formed overwhelms the liver, increasing the likelihood of liver damage or liver failure. Acetaminophen toxicity has replaced viral hepatitis as the most common cause of acute liver failure, according to a June 24, 2014 article in Medscape online.

Pelletier is examining chlormethiazole’s suitability as an inhibitor of CYP2E1’s ability to cause these toxic reactions. “We will be able to assess the application of chlormethiazole-mediated CYP2E1 inhibition in preclinical drug development,” notes Pelletier, “and in the possible mitigation of CYP2E1 bioactivation-mediated toxicity, such as that seen with acetaminophen overdose.”

Pelletier, a member of the Kunze Lab, submitted a research proposal to AFPE, along with recommendation letters and a Statement of Purpose. Reviewers were impressed with his extensive research experience, lab skills, and the soundness and relevance of the CYP2E1 project. “I’m so excited to receive this award,” said Pelletier. “I hope my work will lead to advances in addressing the growing issue of acetaminophen toxicity.”

Congratulations to Robert on this well-deserved award!

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