Drugs targeting digestive disorders, discovery and proof of principle


Project Details

We are working independently and with the pharmaceutical industry to investigate receptors and mechanisms that could be targeted to treat disorders of the digestive system, particularly constipation.  The work has uncovered ghrelin receptors in the central nervous system as one potential target.  We have conducted animal proof of principle studies and a first-in-human safety and pharmacokinetic study for this target.


Professor John Furness
Dr Ruslan Pustovit
Dr Shanti Diwakarla
Mr Mitch Ringuet

Research Publications

  • Sanger GJ, Furness JB. Ghrelin and motilin receptors as drug targets for gastrointestinal disorders. Nature Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 2016; 19: 38-48.
  • Ellis AG, Zeglinski PT, Brown DJ, Frauman AG, Millard M, Furness JB. Pharmacokinetics of the ghrelin agonist capromorelin in a single ascending dose phase 1 safety trial in spinal cord injured and able bodied volunteers. Spinal Cord 2015: 53: 103-108.
  • Naitou K, Mamerto TP, Pustovit RV, Callaghan B, Rivera LR, Chan AJ, Ringuet MT, Pietra C, Furness JB. Site and mechanism of the colokinetic action of the ghrelin receptor agonist, HM01. Neurogastroenterol Motil 2015; 27: 1596-1603.
  • Pustovit RV, Furness JB, Rivera LR. A ghrelin receptor agonist is an effective colokinetic in rats with diet induced constipation. Neurogastroenterol Motil 2015; 27: 610-617.
  • Callaghan B, Furness JB. Novel and conventional receptors for ghrelin, desacyl-ghrelin and pharmacologically related compounds. Pharmacol Rev 2014; 66: 984-1001.
  • Pustovit RV, Callaghan B, Kosari, Rivera LR, Thomas H, Brock JA, Furness JB. The mechanism of enhanced defecation caused by the ghrelin receptor agonist, ulimorelin. Neurogastroenterol Motil 2014; 26: 264-271.

Research Group

Furness laboratory: Digestive physiology and nutrition

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Biomedical Neuroscience, Therapeutics & Translation, Systems Biology

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Anatomy and Neuroscience

Unit / Centre

Furness laboratory: Digestive physiology and nutrition

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