Growth factors and peptide mimetics
Growth factors are naturally-occurring proteins which regulate the growth and survival of cells. Their potent biological effects make them attractive targets for the development of novel therapeutic agents for a multitude of as yet untreatable diseases. However, because of their poor pharmacokinetic properties — the physical size and chemical nature of proteins renders them highly susceptible to breakdown in the bloodstream, requires that they be injected, and limits their access to certain areas of the body — recombinant proteins themselves are unlikely to be the optimal agents for clinical use.
We have developed techniques that enable us to design conformationally-constrained peptides that act as potent mimetics or inhibitors of selected growth factors. We have three projects in this area, designing peptide mimetics that target both central and peripheral nervous system diseases, including multiple sclerosis and Guillain-Barre syndrome.