30 January 2024

João Rocha's work is part of "50 objects of knowledge" exposition, from UA

João Rocha's work is part of

About 30 years ago, the first article by researchers from the University of Aveiro (UA) was published in a high-impact journal, Nature. The structure of a microporous material, titaniosilicate ETS-10, previously unknown, was discovered. The revelation of the structure of these materials was crucial for the development of a medication to treat excess potassium in the blood. The article published in 1994 in Nature is one of the objects that is part of the history of UA. The authors are João Rocha, former director of CICECO, and Artur Ferreira, Coordinator Professor at ESTGA, and co-author of the article.

After the discovery of the microporous material, over more than a decade, other analogous silicates were studied by changing the metal atom in the structure. One of these materials, a zirconiosilicate, and the knowledge that the UA team had about it led the American pharmaceutical company ZSPharma – later acquired by AstraZeneca – to establish a two-year partnership in 2003. This collaboration resulted in the market launch of Lokelma, a medication that reduces excess potassium in the blood by removing it from the gastrointestinal tract. Following approvals from the FDA and EMA for release in the North American and European markets – a process in which the partnership with UA researchers played a role – the medication, indicated for renal patients with diabetes or heart failure, began to be used in hospital settings in Portugal in 2023.

The article published in Nature in 1994 is one of the items included in the exhibition "50 Objects of Knowledge," which will be on display in the Noble Hall of Teatro Aveirense from January 30 to March 31. And "Lokelma", too. 

The University of Aveiro is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Throughout these decades, it has enthusiastically contributed to the community, collaborating directly or indirectly in the development of thousands of individuals, hundreds of companies, organizations, and associations, activating the economic development of the region, as well as the country and the world. It promotes a higher quality of life, prosperity, national economic sovereignty, and international sustainability. In various research areas, through its researchers and professors, 50 testimonies of this innovation with an impact on society have been collected, constituting a demonstrative metaphor of the best that has been done in Aveiro.


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