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Researcher Awarded Patent for PTSD Treatment

A photo of Dr. Valentina Echeverria-Moran, a Bay Pines VAHCS Researcher.

Dr. Valentina Echeverria-Moran, an internationally recognized neuroscientist at Bay Pines VAHCS was recently awarded a patent for the therapeutic use of Cotinine in the treatment of PTSD.

By Melanie L. Thomas, Public Affairs Specialist, Bay Pines VAHCS
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System’s (VAHCS) Research and Development Service promotes biomedical, clinical and health services research activities that advance health care for Veterans and their families. A central focus on the biomedical program is research, examining key Veteran health concerns such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  

Dr. Valentina Echeverria-Moran, an internationally recognized neuroscientist at Bay Pines VAHCS was recently awarded a patent for the therapeutic use of Cotinine in the treatment of PTSD.

Dr. Echeverria-Moran has been researching the effects of Cotinine for the last 10 years and led a team of researchers at Bay Pines VAHCS, who made an Alzheimer’s related discovery in April 2011. The discovery was made while the team was investigating the effects of Cotinine on physiological and behavioral symptoms. The team found that in their model Cotinine protected neurons, prevented the progression of Alzheimer’s disease pathology, and enhanced memory.

Cotinine, a major byproduct of nicotine metabolism, is nontoxic and longer lasting than nicotine. More information about this discovery can be accessed here: Bay Pines Researcher Makes Alzheimer's Related Discovery.

This discovery led the team to investigate Cotinine further, finding that it also has the potential to benefit those suffering from PTSD. Read more about the patent here.

Since, 2010 Dr. Echeverria Moran has filed 3 Cotinine related patents and continues to collect information regarding the results of her findings.

Her current patent concerns itself with the diagnosis and treatment for PTSD by facilitation of the extinction of fear memory utilizing a test subject.

“The test subject is administered with a specific amount of Cotinine or a composition consisting of Cotinine in order to enhance the extinction of fear memory and thereby treating the subject with PTSD or other stress related conditions,” said Dr. Echeverria-Moran.

A graphic showing the atomic structure of Cotinine.

A graphic showing the atomic structure of Cotinine (National Center for Biotechnology Information).

Dr. Echeverria-Moran is also recognized for her research and for demonstrating the therapeutic effects of Cotinine on memory loss across a variety of neurological disorders, including PTSD.

This new patent will assist in detecting and diagnosing other conditions related to stress as well. “Patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Down Syndrome may also benefit from the development of this new patent,” explained Dr. Echeverria- Moran.

Although the healthcare system currently provides several ways to treat Veterans with stress related conditions, the development of the Cotinine patent is a major success for Bay Pines VAHCS.

According to the National Center for PTSD, Veterans in the military who have seen combat or have been on missions exposed to horrible and life-threatening experiences may be at higher risk for the disorder. The number of Veterans with PTSD varies by service.

In a given year, about 11 – 20 out of every 100 Veterans who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) have PTSD. In addition, approximately 12 out of every 100 Veterans who served during the Gulf War and about 15 out of every 100 Veterans who have served in the Vietnam War suffer from PTSD.

“Her new patent will allow expansion of her research on Cotinine and PTSD, including refinement and optimization of treatment, and will accelerate translation of findings to clinical practice. Such translation is imperative to ensuring that Veterans with PTSD have access to state of the art care at Bay Pines,” said Dr. Allison Williams, Associate Chief of Staff for Research and Development, Bay Pines VAHCS.

The Cotinine patent is one of the 33 major active research projects currently underway at Bay Pines.

Research and Development projects are continuously accomplished through partnerships with other government agencies, private scientific associations and pharmaceutical companies.

The team of researchers currently involved with the study of this patent is actively looking to expand their findings, and is seeking partnerships through the Bay Pines Foundation - a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization independent of the Bay Pines VAHCS established to advance the research and education missions of VA.

For more information about partnering with the Bay Pines VAHCS Research and Development Service, or to participate in a research study, please call 727-398-6661 ext. 14385.

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