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Discovering and Delivering Novel Drugs for Cardiovascular Disease

Dr Chengxue Helena Qin, Institution: Monash University

2019 Future Leader Fellowship

Years funded: 2020-2024


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death in Australia, killing one Australian every 12 minutes. Despite improvements over the last few decades, CVD remains one of the biggest burdens on our economy. Thus, developing innovative pharmacotherapies is essential to address this urgent clinical problem. The natural phenomenon of “biased agonism” is currently revolutionizing the drug discovery field and has entered clinical trials for heart failure and pain, suggesting its huge translational potential.

My research has explored this “new fashion” of drug design in settings of heart attack, where it keeps heart muscle alive and reduces inflammation. This new approach teaches a heart muscle protein, called formyl peptide receptors, a “new trick” to selectively activate desirable signals inside the cell, without triggering detrimental signals that could contribute to side effects (e.g. excess inflammation and death of heart muscle cells).

This landmark work has been published in a well-known prestigious scientific journal (Nature Communications), and the intellectual property has been protected in the form of a patent. Several follow-up studies have been published in top ranked medicinal chemistry field (J Med Chem) and Special Issue in Resolution Pharmacology (Frontiers Pharm).

My discovery has also attracted significant interest from venture capital, big pharma & media (The Australian, guest speaker 3RRR Radio), and has led to the establishment of a Vic-based biotech company. Given our success in the setting of heart attack with this drug discovery approach, further development of my prototype small-molecule in different forms of CVD, such as hypertension & diabetes is clearly warranted, especially where inflammation and fibrosis are central to the development of disease.

With my combined expertise in medicinal chemistry, molecular pharmacology and pre-clinical models of CVD, I am uniquely positioned to develop next-generation, novel drugs and novel approaches to deliver these drugs to treat CVD.

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