The official launch of the National Drug Discovery Centre (NDDC) has seen Centenary Institute researcher, Associate Professor Anthony Don, announced as one of the first recipients of Australian Government funding that will give him heavily subsidised access to the new Centre’s advanced drug screening facilities. The opportunity will fast-track Associate Professor Don’s research into treating type 2 diabetes.
Professor Don, Head of the Lipid Metabolism and Neurochemistry Laboratory at
Centenary is leading a project aimed at developing a new class of drugs
targeting abnormal lipid (fat) metabolism to treat type 2 diabetes and obesity.
team leads internationally in the development of a new class of drugs targeting
specific fat molecules called ceramides,” says Associate Professor Don.
that block ceramide formation in the liver and fat tissue should help greatly
with reducing weight gain and reversing the insulin resistance that causes type
2 diabetes,” he says.
collaboration with the NDCC will allow Associate Professor Don to accelerate both
his drug development program and related research activity.
Based at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, the NDDC provides robotic high-throughput drug screening. This is the process of using advanced automation to find a new drug against a chosen biological target for a particular disease.
Australian Government is subsidising up to 90 per cent of standard screening
costs offered by the new Centre to successful applicants–such as Associate
Professor Don– through its Medical Research Future Fund.
Pictured: Lead author and Centenary Institute researcher, Dr Ka Ka Ting using Centenary’s state-of-the-art confocal microscope.
Scientists at the Centenary Institute have developed a novel drug which could potentially be used to effectively treat patients with diabetic retinopathy; the main cause of blindness from diabetes.
The key process involved in diabetic retinopathy pathology is the breakdown of the blood-retinal barrier (BRB), which is normally impermeable. Its integrity relies on how well capillary endothelial cells are bound together by tight junctions. If the junctions are loose or damaged, the blood vessels can leak.
In collaboration with researchers in Denmark, scientists at the Centenary Institute in Sydney have demonstrated in mouse models, how a novel drug, CD5-2, can mend the damaged blood retinal barrier and reduce vascular leakage.
“With limited treatment options currently available, it is critical we develop alternative strategies for the treatment of this outcome of diabetes,” says lead author Dr Ka Ka Ting from the Centenary Institute.
A novel drug is being touted as a major step forward in the battle against Australia’s escalating rates of obesity and associated metabolic diseases. As it stands, 2 in 3 adults in Australia are classified as being overweight or obese. A long-term study between researchers at the Centenary Institute and UNSW Sydney has led to the creation of a drug which targets an enzyme linked to insulin resistance – a key contributor of metabolic diseases, such as Type II diabetes.
“From here, I would like to develop drugs which target both the Ceramide Synthase 1 and 6 enzymes together, and see whether it produces a much stronger anti-obesity and insulin sensitising response. Although these drugs need more work before they are suitable for use in the clinic, our work so far has been a very important step in that direction,” says Centenary Institute’s Associate Professor Anthony Don.
Centenary PhD student Ameline Lim must also be recognised for her role in conducting a significant amount of the laboratory work and data analysis throughout the project, which formed the basis for her PhD thesis.