Prof. Javier Morales Montecinos obtains funding for a project that seeks to develop more effective drugs for hypertension

by | 2 Jul, 2020 | Press

Professor Javier Morales Montecinos, academic from the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies at our Faculty and Associate Researcher of the FONDAP ACCDiS project, won one of the 12 CONICYT projects that grant funding to strengthen the development of exact sciences and technologies, as well as the formation of human capital.

University of Chile was one of the two projects awarded to the Corporation.

With project number ACT192144 and titled “Novel drugs and drug delivery systems for the treatment of hypertension”, Prof. Morales Montecinos will work leading the group of researchers, among whom are professors Felipe Oyarzún, academic from the same department and Eduardo Soto, academic from the Department of Organic and Physical Chemistry at our Faculty.

The team will we completed with Andrés Bello University researcher, Eyleen Araya, and researchers from Chilean Catholic University, María Paz Ocaranza and Jorge Jalil.

As Prof. Morales Montecinos pointed out, “the project is called new drugs and new drug delivery systems because it combines these two things. Mimetic peptides first as a new strand of pharmacology around Angiotensin 1-9 and then these delivery systems to control the rate of action using mouth patches and implants. All these developments are also under the umbrella of hypertension as a disease on which we want to act”.

The spirit of the project is “from a more pharmaceutical perspective, to develop new molecules and new molecule development systems that allow for a range of delivery speeds; and the hypertension team will allow us to challenge all these possible formulations against the disease and thus we will be able to know what are the best strategies, develop new candidates and over 3 years we hope to be able to validate at least preclinically, with high standards of preclinical work, models that can then go on to other technological phases”. “Ideally, they can enter preclinical study phases supported with the collaboration of some industry that allows us to access the levels of financing that would be required to carry out clinical studies,” says Prof. Morales Montecinos.

The amount assigned to the project is 150 million pesos annually for the 3 years, that is, a total of 450 million pesos.

Prof. Morales Montecinos refers to details of the project

As Prof. Morales Montecinos pointed out, “I’ve had this collaborative project in mind for a long time and had visualized different ways to execute it. My team, the Drug Delivery Laboratory that I run, is dedicated to developing delivery systems for drugs when this molecules have difficulties exerting their therapeutic effect in the most effective way. This can be manifested since the molecule has difficulty reaching the site of action or presents problems in being able to arrive in sufficient concentrations, and then large amounts must be administered. All this could expose the entire body to the effect of the drug, when in reality it is needed in a single region of the body”, explains the researcher.

He adds that his team investigates not from a pathology but from the physicochemical and administration issues of molecules, his objective is to develop new technologies that make therapies in specific key diseases viable. “I thought of the project from this perspective, of generating a work team that looks at a diversity of diseases and an infinity of administration systems, but, when I started to land the idea on something more concrete, we decided as a team to develop more therapies effective for the management and treatment of hypertension”, he explains.

He points out that the proposal seeks to improve pharmacokinetic limitations of Angiotensin 1-9 with modifications that will be worked in collaboration with Eyleen Araya, from Andrés Bello University, who has worked on mimetic peptides that are alternatives to conventional peptides in how they are configured three-dimensionally. In this new version, the new molecules maintain their therapeutic efficacy and increase their stability and thus it is possible to modify their pharmacokinetics.

Another aspect of the research has to do with developing systems of administration of these molecules that are more rational and friendly to patients. “The oral technology that we have developed with my team will allow us to develop fast-acting systems that would simulate the speed of an injection but without the need for needles so that the molecule enters the body quickly, and also, together with the expertise of Dr. Felipe Oyarzún and Dr. Eduardo Soto, we are going to develop ultra slow release systems to make implants”.

He indicated that the latter is relevant “because an infusion is a way of controlling a sustained delivery of the drug over a very long period of time and that is what we want to achieve with the ultra slow system: having a long window of time with an intervention, which would be this subcutaneous implant that is permanently delivering a stable level of the drug”.

This team is joined by María Paz Ocaranza and Jorge Jalil, both researchers at the Catholic University of Chile who are experts on in vitro and in vivo models of different progressions of hypertension.

Prof. Javier Morales Montecinos points out the other dimensions of the project, those that foster the formation of advanced human capital. “This project not only allows us to train new doctors but also postdoctoral researchers. In addition, we will execute courses related to the areas of work of the project and a strong agenda of extension actions in non-academic spaces”.

Project will teach about hypertension in elderly clubs at Independencia

In this regard, he comments that through the Municipality of Independencia they will develop actions with senior clubs to disseminate information about hypertension. “We are going to design a booklet that we can take to these clubs so that they can learn about the pathology, healthy life leading to good aging, and find out what we are working on in the research project.” On the other hand, “we will connect with the Chilean Society of Hypertension and the Chilean Society of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery to be able to participate with them in actions on hypertension month and heart month”.

International cooperation with experts

Another dimension of the project deals with promoting international cooperation, linking the research team with international collaborators from United States, Brazil, Germany, Austria, Spain and South Africa. The international cooperation team includes experts in the development of delivery systems, development of analytical methodologies, synthesis and analysis of peptides and biological drugs, and angiotensin as a key molecule in hypertension. This network of researchers will visit Chile and will also be linking sites for the students participating in the project.

Objectives of the CONICYT Instrument

The specific objectives to which these type of projects point are to promote the scientific and technological development of the country, by financing research projects supported by collaborative, broad and multidisciplinary work.

For this, the CONICYT Associative Research Program encourages the formation of scientific research groups, without distinction of discipline, within research institutions, which can apply individually or in association, in order to strengthen both the development of exact sciences and technology, such as the formation of human capital within them.

Author: Communications and Extension Directorate. Date: December 20, 2019.

Source: Universidad de Chile

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Estos artículos corresponden a publicaciones en distintos medios de comunicación que cuentan con la colaboración de Cendhy, lo mencionan o son redactados por éste.

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