Miguel Angel Ondetti
Miguel Ondetti and David Cushman developed captopril, the first of a new class of drugs known as angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. Highly effective in treating hypertension, captopril lowered blood pressure with fewer undesirable side effects than earlier treatments, increasing patients' quality of life and compliance.
Scientists had discovered that the venom of the Brazilian pit viper inhibited the production of angiotensin II, which causes narrowing of the blood vessels and increased blood pressure. While working at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Ondetti and Cushman identified, purified, and synthesized the key substance. After years of trying to make the drug in pill form, they made a breakthrough in 1974, synthesizing captopril.
Captopril was the first medical treatment to establish angiotensin's vital role in hypertension, unveiling a new field of medical research, ACE inhibition. Captopril has been found to significantly reduce death rates in patients with congestive heart failure and to be effective in postponing kidney failure in diabetics.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ondetti earned his Ph.D. from the Universidad de Buenos Aires in 1957. During his 34-year career at Bristol-Myers Squibb, he earned more than 100 patents and was awarded the Perkin Medal in 1991.