From Toxins to Treatments and Technology - Harnessing nature for the benefit of humankind

DRA lecture held by Dr. Christina I. Schroeder, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Australia.

Dr. Schroeder is an internationally renowned peptide engineer, who focusses on venom-derived peptides from a variety of venomous species as potential avenues to treat chronic and neuropathic pain.

Voltage-gated sodium channels (NaV) are integral in almost all aspects of human physiology, including cardiac and muscle function and pain perception, and sodium channel subtype NaV1.7 have been genetically validated to be involved in nociception. Peptide toxins isolated from venomous creatures are potent inhibitors of human voltage-gated sodium channels and venom peptides selective against NaV1.7 are showing great potential as therapeutic pain leads, inhibiting NaV activity by blocking the pore domain (pore blockers) or by binding to the membrane-embedded voltage sensor domain of the sodium channel (gating-modifier toxins). However, despite intensive research efforts into NaV1.7 inhibitors there has been little in the way of translation probably due to our lack of understanding how to achieve subtype selectivity and complete block of the NaV1.7 subtype and how to move from effective in vitro to in vivo inhibitors. We are delineating the mechanism of action behind venom peptide inhibition of voltage-gated sodium channel on a molecular and global level in order to engineer peptides achieving subtype specific and complete inhibition of this therapeutically relevant sodium channel subtype to ultimately unlock the potential of these potent venom peptides as therapeutic leads or diagnostic tools for the treatment of pain and imaging.

The lecture is organised on behalf of the graduate programme in pharmaceutical sciences, Drug Research Academy, by Professor Kristian Strømgaard and Associate Professor Stephan Pless, Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

The DRA lecture is free of charge and open for attendance by all interested parties. It is not necessary to pre-register.