At the Drug Discovery Biology theme, we aim to uncover fundamental information about the structure, activation, signalling and regulation of receptors; deepen understanding of the contribution of receptors to critical physiological processes and disease mechanisms; and develop and validate receptor-directed tools, targeting diseases that are major causes of human suffering.
Our research is based on four major multidisciplinary and complementary areas of expertise: pharmacology, structural biology, target identification and translational science.
Pharmacology is the study of synthetic, natural or endogenous drugs and their actions in the human body. By understanding how drugs interact with their target proteins at a molecular level and investigating their downstream signalling pathways and physiological effects, we can design new drugs with improved therapeutic effects.
At the Drug Discovery Biology theme, we focus on novel allosteric modulators and signalling pathway-biased ligands, either as unique biological tools or potential therapeutic hits/leads. These approaches are guided by close collaboration with the Medicinal Chemistry theme.
Structural biology View
The field of structural biology investigates the structure of macromolecules including G protein-coupled receptors, and how modifying this structure affects macromolecule function.
At the Drug Discovery Biology theme, our research encompasses a diverse array of mutational, molecular modelling, biophysical, crystallographic, cryo-electron microscopy and NMR studies. These aim to yield insights into the structure, function and dynamics of receptor proteins.
Target identification View
Target identification involves investigating the pathophysiology of disease states and identifying the genes, proteins and pathways that can be targeted for treatment.
At the Drug Discovery Biology theme, we focus on studying the pathophysiology of and identifying new targets for cardiovascular, metabolic and neurological diseases, as well as pain, inflammation and cancer.
Translational research View
At the Drug Discovery Biology theme, we study disease states and pharmacological interventions in native tissues and pre-clinical models of disease. Our projects encompass studies of behaviour, cardiovascular function, metabolic homeostasis, inflammation, pain, tumour growth and metastasis. This work utilises state-of-the art approaches, including CRISPR-generated mutant mice, metabolic profiling, behavioural analyses and whole-animal imaging.
We have active collaborations with the pharmaceutical industry to identify novel drug targets and to test potential lead compounds. Our collaboration with the Centre for Drug Candidate Optimisation allows us to evaluate the relationships between drug action, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.
Drug Discovery Biology hosts the FACS and Analysis Core (IFAC) and is the headquarter of the ARC Training Centre for Cryo-Electron Microscopy of Membrane Proteins.
CCeMMP is an Australian Research Council funded Industrial Transformation Training Centre. Headquartered at Drug Discovery Biology, the Centre is training industry-ready, world-class graduates with critical expertise in the application of cryo-electron microscopy to drug discovery.
MIPS Imaging, FACS and Analysis Core (IFAC)
The MIPS Imaging, FACS and Analysis Core has state of the art microscope and flow cytometry instrumentation.
Our researchers often access the following research platforms to conduct our research.