João Pedro Boazinha will develop his PhD studies at BioSIM, with the supervision of Sérgio F. Sousa in collaboration with BIAL (Co-supervisor Nuno Cerqueira) and CIIMAR (co-supervisor João Carneiro). He is a PhD student of the PhD Program in Sustainable Chemistry, and his thesis will focus on the Development of In Silico Simulation Protocols for Selective Inhibition of Voltage-Gate Sodium Channels.
A significant number of diseases including epilepsy, cardiac arrhythmias, and chronic pain syndromes, have been shown to be associated to Voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channels. However, while some NaV channels like NaV1.1, NaV1.2 and NaV1.6 have been linked to some of these conditions and regarded as appealing targets for drug development, others like NaV1.4 and NaV1.5, which share a high structural homology degree, are critical off-targets, associated to cardiotoxicity and muscular disorders. Selectively inhibiting the first, without blocking the second, is extremely challenging and requires a detailed atomic level knowledge of their structures and conformations adopted. Based on these challenges, his PhD project will use computational chemistry/biochemistry methodologies, artificial intelligence, and machine learning algorithms to understand NaV inhibition at the molecular level and develop protocols that can be used to develop and optimize more selective inhibitors of NaV targets of pharmacological interest.