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Current Projects

Bio-tropical peptides are re-engineered into imaging or sensing tools to generate contrast. All tissues are interconnected by nerves which express ion channel, including NaV1.7. Different urgent and unmet medical dysfunctions are associated to the changes in distribution of NaV1.7. Our tools aim to quantitatively measure these above mentioned variations to provide immediate readouts for disease.

Based on the NIH-K99 project from PI, we aim to target prostate cancer cells progression by measuring sodium channel NaV1.8 activities, changes and dysregulation(s). For this work, we use prostate cancer mouse models, immunohistochemistry staining(s) and channel NaV1.8-targeted peptides. Targeting NaV1.8 is an alternative for treatment of untreatable cancers.

Peruvian spider

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accessing peripheral nerves with spider peptides

Immunohistochemistry/Fluorescence Microscopy

NaV1.7 is expressed in peripheral nerves

Imaging Infectious Tropical Disease

We aim to develop imaging tools to help detect malaria, dengue and related tropical diseases affecting patients in the rainforest of northem Peru. For this project, we will continue to cultivate strong bonds, knowledge and exchange(s) with local scholars from Iquitos-Peru. We will synthesize reputed agent(s) from the local medicine repertoire and re-engineered them into tracers for infectious disease.


Porphyrin-based multiplex sensor

New Approaches to treat Tropical Diseases

Developing Sensing Tools for Neuropathies

Sodium Channels' Activities for Cancer




1. “Fluorescence Imaging of Peripheral Nerves by a Nav1.7-targeted Inhibitor Cystine Knot Peptide.” Gonzales, J., Demetrio de Souza, P., Jiang, Y., Pirovano, G., Kossatz, S., Guru, N., Yarilin, D., Agwa, A., Schroeder, C., Patel, S., Ganly, I., King, G., Reiner, T. Bioconjug Chem, 2019. 239(10):001602. PMID: 31647222

2. “Bimodal Imaging of Mouse Peripheral Nerves with Chlorin Tracers.” Gonzales, J., Hernandez-Gil, J., Wilson, T., Cornejo, M., Demetrio de Souza, P., Guru, N., Schroeder, C., King, G., Lewis, J., Reiner, T. Mol. Pharm., 2021, 18, 3, 940-951, PMID: 33404254

3. “Pharmacological inhibition of the voltage-gated sodium channel NaV1.7 alleviates chronic visceral pain in a rodent model of irritable bowel syndrome.” Jiang, Y., Castro, J., Agwa, A., Blomster, L., Agwa, A., Maddern, J., Schober, G., Herzig, V., Chow, C., Cardoso. F., Demetrio, P., Gonzales, J., Schroeder, C., Esche, S., Reiner, T., Brierley, S., King, G. ACS Pharmacol. Transl. Sci., 2021, 4, 4, 1362-1378, PMID: 34423271

4. “Non-invasive Imaging of Sense of Smell by Tracking the Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel NaV1.7.” Adilbay, D., Gonzales, J., M., Demetrio de Souza, P., Patel, S., Viray, T., Chow, C. Y., King, G., Pillarsetty, N., Reiner, T. bioRxiv, 2021, doi:

5. “Fluorescent Labeling of a Nav1.7-Targeted peptide for near-infrared nerve visualization.” Gonzales, J., Pirovano, G., Demetrio de Souza, P., Chow, J., Kossatz, S., Guru, N., King, G., Lewis, J., Reiner, T. EJNMMI Research, 2020, 10(1): 49, PMID: 32409881

6. “Facile synthesis of chlorin bioconjugates by a series of click reactions.” Gonzales, J., Bhupathiraju, N. V., Perea, W., Chu, H., Berisha, N., Bueno, V., Dodic, N., Rozenberg, J., Greenbaum, N. L., Drain, C. M., Chem Commun (Camb), 2017. 53(26): p. 3773-3776. PMID: 28304032

7. “One-pot synthesis of four chlorin derivatives by a divergent ylide.” Gonzales, J., Bhupathiraju, N. V. S. D. K., Hart, D., Yuen, M., Sifuentes M. P., Maranan, M., Berisha, N., Batteas, J., Drain, M. C. J. Org. Chem. 2018. 83 (12):6307-6314. PMID: 29775305

8. “Leveraging synthetic chlorins for bio-imaging applications.” Hernandez-Gil, J., Lewis, J.S., Reiner, T., Drain, C. M. and Gonzales, J. Chem Commun (Camb), 2020. Sep 18. doi: 10.1039/d0cc05494a. PMID: 32945820

9. “Nanoemulsion-Based Delivery of Fluorescent PARP inhibitors in mouse model of small cell lung cancer.” Gonzales, J., Kossatz, S., Roberts, S., Pirovano, G., Brand, C., Perez-Medina, C., de la Cruz, M. J., Mulder, W. J. M., Reiner, T. Bioconjug Chem, 2018. 29(11): 3776-3782, PMID: 30354077

10. “Development and Validation of Nerve-targeted Bacteriochlorin Sensors.” Hernadez-Gil, J. Chow, C. Y., Demetrio de Souza Franca, P., Samuels, Z., Cornejo, M., Lewis, J., Reiner, T., Gonzales, J. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2023. (doi: 10.1021/jacas.3c02520)

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