16 October 2006

The Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) at The University of Queensland received more than $8 million in funding for 18 projects announced in National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding today (October 16).

The IMB also garnered five out of seven of UQ's research fellowships, which included Professor Mike Waters who was granted one of the nation's top research fellowships worth $721,250, becoming a Senior Principal Research Fellow.

Professor Waters leads a team of scientists studying growth hormone, which has important roles in determining a person's final height, body composition, strength and lifespan.

Further research into this discovery will be supported by another NHMRC grant worth $511,500 to Professor Waters.

Another IMB project received NHMRC funding of $291,750 for research using molecules from cone-snail venom to develop potential new treatments for chronic pain.

Professor David Craik, who will lead the project, said chronic pain affected one in five Australians.

“One of worst types of chronic pain is neuropathic pain, which occurs when the nerves themselves generate pain, seemingly without a reason,” Professor Craik said.

“Peptides, which are short molecules, from cone snail venom have attracted a lot of attention recently because of their potential to treat neuropathic pain. While they are a good choice for drug design because they are so targeted, they are also quite unstable and prone to degradation.”

Professor Craik's project aims to counter these disadvantages by linking the ends of the peptides so they are circular, and therefore far more stable.

Media inquiries: Bronwyn Allan (07 3346 2134 or 0418 575 247).

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