Professor Javier Morales Montecinos, academic of the Department of Science and Pharmaceutical Technologies of our Faculty and Associate Researcher of the FONDAP ACCDiS project, won one of conICYT's 12 Ring projects that provides funding to strengthen the development of the exact sciences and technology, as well as the formation of human capital.

The 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 them are professors Felipe Oyarzún, academic from the same department and Eduardo Soto, department of Organic Chemistry and Chemistry Physics at our Faculty.

The team will also be made up of the researcher of the Universidad Andrés Bello, Eyleen Araya, and researchers from the Catholic University, María Paz Ocaranza and Jorge Jalil.

As Prof noted, prof. Morales Montecinos, "the project is called new drugs and new drug delivery systems because it couples these two things. First the mimetic peptides as a new pharmacology slope around Angiotensin 1-9 and then these delivery systems to control the speed of action using oral patches and implants. All these developments are also placed under the umbrella of hypertension as a disease on which we want to act".

The spirit of the project is "from the most pharmaceutical perspective, develop new molecules and new molecule development systems that allow a range of delivery speeds; and the hypertension team is going to allow us to challenge all these possible formulations against the disease and so we'll be able to know which 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 continue into other technological phases". "Ideally, they can enter preclinical phases of study supported by the collaboration of some industry that allows us to access the levels of funding that would be required to conduct clinical studies", says Prof. Morales Montecinos.

The amount allocated to the project is 150 million pesos per year for 3 years, i.e., a total of 450 million pesos.

Prof. Morales Montecinos refers to project details

As Prof noted, prof. Morales Montecinos, "This collaborative project had it a long time ago in mind and had visualized different ways to execute it. My team, the Drug Delivery Lab That I Run, is dedicated to developing delivery systems for drugs when these molecules have a difficulty in exerting their therapeutic effect in the most effective way. This can manifest itself from when the molecule has difficulty reaching the site of action or has problems in reaching sufficient concentrations, and that then large amounts of. All of this could expose the entire body to the effect of the drug, when in fact it is needed in a single region of the organism", explains the researcher.

He adds that since his team investigates not from a pathology but from chemical physical problems and molecule management, aims to develop new technologies that make therapies more likely to be targeted in key specific diseases. "The ring I thought about from this perspective, to generate a task team that looks at a diversity of diseases and a myriad of management systems, but, when I started to land the idea in something more concrete is that we decide as a team to develop more effective therapies for the management and treatment of hypertension", explains.

It notes that the proposal seeks to improve pharmacokinetic limitations of angiotensin 1-9 with modifications that will be worked in collaboration with Eyleen Araya, Of 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 side of research has to do with developing systems for managing these molecules that are more rational and friendly for the administration of molecules for patients. "The oral technology we have developed with my laboratory team will allow us to develop fast-acting systems that would simulate the speed of an injection but without the need for needles for the molecule to enter the body quickly and in addition, together with the expertise of Dr.. Felipe Oyarzún and Dr. Eduardo Soto, we're going to develop ultra-slow release systems to make implants".

He noted that the latter is relevant "because an infusion is a way to control in a very long period of time a sustained delivery of the drug and that is what we want to achieve with the ultra-slow system: have by a long-term window with an intervention, that 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 Catholic University researchers experts in in vitro and in vivo models of different progressions of hypertension.

The Prof. Javier Morales Montecinos points out the other dimensions of the Anillo project and that are those that promote the formation of advanced human capital. "This project not only allows us to train new doctors but also postdoctoral researchers. In addition, we will run courses attending the work areas of the Ring and a strong agenda of extension actions in non-academic spaces".

Project to teach about hypertension in nursing home clubs in the commune of Independencia

He says that through the Municipality of Independencia they will develop actions with nursing clubs to disseminate information about hypertension. "We're going to design a booklet that we can bring to these clubs so they can know about the pathology, healthy life leading to good aging, and know what we're 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 in the month of the heart and the month of hypertension".

International cooperation with experts

Another dimension of this Research Ring is to promote international cooperation, linking the research team with international collaborators from the United States, Brazil, Germany, Austria, Spain and South Africa. International cooperation team includes experts in the development of release systems, developing analytical methodologies, synthesis and analysis of peptides and biological drugs, angiotensin as a key molecule in hypertension. This network of researchers will visit the Ring and will also be sites of linking the students participating in this project.

CONICYT Research Rings Goals

The specific objectives of the Research Rings are to promote the scientific and technological development of the country, by funding research projects underpinned by collaborative work, broad and multidisciplinary.

To do this, the Association Research Program encourages the formation of scientific research groups, without distinction of discipline, within research institutions, those who can apply individually or associately, in order to strengthen both the development of the exact sciences and technology, such as the formation of human capital within these.

Our Faculty congratulates Prof. Javier Morales Montecinos and the teachers who will be part of the Anillo CONICYT project!!

Extension and Communications Directorate. December 20, 2019.

Source: University of Chile