Growth factors and peptide mimetics

Lead Researcher Email Number Webpage
Dr Susan Northfield +61 3 8344 8304 View page

Project Details

diagram showing structure of neurotrophin homodimer
Figure: Structure of the neurotrophin homodimer, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Our lab has developed peptide mimetics from the various loop-regions in the protein. (Adapted from J Pep Sci 2006; 12: 515-524.)

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.

Research Group

Hughes laboratory: Drug design

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Biomedical Neuroscience, Therapeutics & Translation

Key Contact

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

Department / Centre

Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Unit / Centre

Hughes laboratory: Drug design