Research grant allots $2.6 million to Pharmacy faculty
Two UH College of Pharmacy faculty researchers received $2.6 million in awards from the National Institute of Health for their research in obesity and hypertension.
Tahir Hussain received $1.6 million for his project that aims to understand receptors in hyperglycemia and the treatment of hypertension associated with obesity and diabetes.
Ming Hu received $1.05 million for his project that aims to improve bioavailability.
Hussain said this project has been his interest since he came to Houston. He wanted to work on the role of kidneys in hypertension. His project research includes the effects angiotensin type 2 receptors have on diabetes and hypertension.
Hussain said that the Renin-Angiotensin system is a molecular system in the body that regulates cardiovascular function and blood pressure, which affects the heart, kidney and other organs. He said there are good and bad components in the RAS.
“In general, bad guys dominate, and if they aren’t regulated, they cause disease; especially kidney disease, heart disease and hypertension,” Hussain said. “But in this system, there are some good guys, and they are small.”
Hussain’s idea was to equally and selectively activate the good components.
During his research he found that the AT2 receptor is expressed in diabetes. Hussain said that his initial data provided him a clue that showed him AT2 affects the kidney function and the blood pressure.
He proposed the funding to find out how it affects the kidney functions and blood pressure. He said this project would lead to the development of a target for treating diabetes and hypertension.
The project is funded for five years, and Hussain said that in this time he should continue significantly in the field, and from there he will know which direction he has to go. He said that one of the important directions five years from now would be to find new molecules that can be used to target good molecules in the body.
Hussain said that obesity is increasing in the United States. Individuals are spending a lot of money to lose weight. Instead, people are gaining weight, especially among children and teenagers. He said that obese people are disposed to develop diabetes.
“These are the people who will develop hypertension,” he said. “So you have diabetes, obesity and hypertension. And when these three get together, the person will die of kidney failure. We have to control hypertension and diabetes to prolong the kidneys.”