Pharmacy Faculty Member Receives $30,000 Research Grant

Pacific University School of Pharmacy faculty member Dr. Mike Espiritu has been awarded the Collins Medical Trust Award, a $30,000 one-year research grant.

The grant will support Dr. Espiritu’s work to determine the structure-activity relationship of a cone snail toxin called MIIIB with voltage gated potassium channels. These small peptide toxins are known as “conotoxins.” 

Conotoxins have played a significant role in developing understanding of the structure and function of ion channels. In some instances, these toxins have served as drug leads themselves. Previous research has shown that the conotoxin MIIIB can bind to the specific potassium channel Kv1.1, which is a protein targeted to treat muscle weakness associated with multiple sclerosis. 

The goal is to better understand how the toxin targets this channel and to use that information to develop new drug leads in the future. 

“The data that we get from this grant will give me the opportunity to apply for larger grants in the future and help establish our understanding of how to better target voltage gated potassium channels to treat disease,” Espiritu said. 

“Achieving this award would not have been possible without the strong support I received from my colleagues at Pacific University. In particular, I would like to thank Sigrid Roberts, Jo Isgrigg, John Harrelson, and Jon Taylor.”

Friday, Dec. 10, 2021