New nonprofit aims to identify unrelated generic drugs to help cure rare diseases

Tuesday, September 20, 2022
New nonprofit aims to identify generic drugs to help cure rare disease
Dr. David Fajgenbaum is not afraid to think outside the box, and that's what saved his life.

NEW YORK (WPVI) -- A new nonprofit backed by the Clinton Global Initiative aims to identify generic drugs that could help people with rare diseases.

Every Cure is based on the concept that every drug on the market has multiple effects on the body, not just the one or two that first earned its approval.

The organization hopes by coordinating data on all these drugs, a cure to another disease may be found in an unexpected source.

A doctor is sharing his remarkable life story, a journey that includes five near-death experiences, while launching the nonprofit organization.

Dr. David Fajgenbaum was front and center at this year's Clinton Global Initiative meeting in Manhattan on Monday after the former president personally invited the 37-year-old.

His mantra is turning hope into action. The married father of two took the opportunity to officially launch

"The fact I'm alive because of a repurposed drug, got to marry the love of my life, and a lot of patients can't," said Fajgenbaum, who is an assistant professor at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania.

He's not afraid to think outside the box and that's what saved his life.

While in medical school, the former college athlete suddenly became critically ill.

Doctors told him he was suffering from a rare disorder called Castleman disease where his immune system was attacking his vital organs.

He spent months in the ICU and at one point was read his last rites.

Then there was a turning point.

After studying his own charts and testing his blood, a drug used to treat another illness seemed to help him.

Finally there was a breakthrough and Fajgenbaum has now been in remission for more than eight years.

"If we can do this for Castleman, if we can do it for cancer and if we can do it for COVID, there are a lot of patients out there waiting for solutions, we are going to do it across drugs and diseases," he said.

Fajgenbaum said there are roughly 3,000 drugs out there that aren't being fully utilized. But through Every Cure, he and his team hopes to change that.

"The idea here is how many more of these cures are just hiding in plain sight that we can unlock and save lives," Fajgenbaum said.