<b>Professor David Craik</b><br>
Group Leader, Chemistry and Structural Biology Division<br>
Investigator, Centre for Pain Research<p>
P: +61 7 3346 2019<br>
E: d.craik@imb.uq.edu.au<p>
<b>Keywords</b><br>
- cancer<br>
- chronic pain<br>
- multiple sclerosis<br>
- cardiovascular disease<br>
- drug discovery<br>
- drug development<br>
- cyclic peptides<br>
- cyclotides<br>
- agriculture
Professor David Craik
Group Leader, Chemistry and Structural Biology Division
Investigator, Centre for Pain Research

P: +61 7 3346 2019
E: d.craik@imb.uq.edu.au

Keywords
- cancer
- chronic pain
- multiple sclerosis
- cardiovascular disease
- drug discovery
- drug development
- cyclic peptides
- cyclotides
- agriculture

Protein structure in drug and insecticide design

Peptides and proteins play a vital role in almost every cellular process in living organisms. Our research discovers and determines structural information on peptides and proteins to design drugs to more effectively treat human disease and develop natural protein-based insecticides to protect Australian food and fibre crops.

We use protein engineering to modify proteins by grafting new biologically active peptide sequences onto them. We also stabilise proteins through cyclisation, a process where the head and tail ends of the protein chain are joined together to make a circular protein. Circular proteins are exceptionally stable and we have modelled our protein engineering studies on naturally occurring proteins known as cyclotides that we discovered in plants.

We undertake fieldwork in Australia and overseas for the collection of plant species so we can explore the diversity and evolution of the cyclotide family of plant proteins. We have chemically re-engineered cyclotides under development for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer and chronic pain.

We also study the structures of a range of toxins from cone snails, scorpions and snakes, and use this information to understand their mode of action against ion channels and other receptors involved in the pain pathway.

During the past 12 months, we have used a range of medicinal chemistry techniques to determine the structures of biologically active molecules and identify functional regions of these molecules to exploit in drug design and development. In particular, we have developed structure-activity relationships for a number of novel conotoxins with potential to be used as leads in drug design programs. We have also demonstrated that natural cyclotides can be adapted or re-engineered for pharmaceutical applications, and we have further defined structure-activity relationships for a class of mammalian host defence peptides called theta-defensins. This work has been reported in 34 refereed articles published during 2013, including commentaries in the high-profile journals Angewandte Chemie and Nature Chemistry. 

Read more about David Craik's research to grow medicines in plants.

Research in the news

Feb 2016 — Turning plants into drug factories via Scientific American 

 American Chemical Society's Prized Science 2011 - How the science behind ACS awards impacts your life

2014 American Chemical Society National Meeting - Advance toward developing an oral pain reliever derived from debilitating snail venom

June 2013 — Australian Academy of Science New Fellows Presentations: Discovery and application of circular proteins

 

27 November 2014 Link found between pain relief and snails (ABC Radio National Breakfast)

Research training opportunities

Please see IMB's postgraduate website for more information. 

Key publications

View more publications by Professor Craik via Pubmed or UQ Researchers.

Wang C K, Gruber C W, Cĕmažar M, Siatskas C, Tagore P, Payne N, Sun G, Wang S, Bernard C C, Craik D J. (2014). Molecular grafting onto a stable framework yields novel cyclic peptides for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. ACS Chemical Biology 9: 156-163.

Craik D J. (2012) Turbo-charged crosslinking. Nature Chemistry 4: 600-602.

Mylne J S, Chan L Y, Chanson A H, Daly N L, Schaefer H, Bailey T L, Nguyencong P, Cascales L, Craik D J. (2012) Cyclic peptides arising by evolutionary parallelism via asparaginyl-endiopeptidase mediated biosynthesis. Plant Cell 24: 2765-2778.

Schroeder C I, Craik D J. (2012) Therapeutic potential of conotoxins. Future Medicinal Chemistry 4: 1243-1255.

Clark R J, Jensen J, Nevin S T, Callaghan B P, Adams D J, Craik D J. (2010). The engineering of an orally active conotoxin for the treatment of neuropathic pain. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 49: 6545-6548.

Craik D J. (2006). Seamless proteins tie up their loose ends. Science 311: 1563-1564.

 

External websites of interest

Cybase is dedicated to the study of a fascinating new class of proteins that possess a cyclic backbone in which the N and C termini have been joined with a conventional amide bond. These recently characterised molecules have now been found in organisms from all kingdoms of life and given the current rate of discovery the number of sequences could soon number in the hundreds.

ConoServer is a database specialising in the sequence and structures of conopeptides, which are peptides expressed by carnivorous marine cone snails.

Group contacts

Ms Agwa Akello
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62023
+61 7 334 62324
j.agwa@uq.edu.au
Dr Peta Harvey
ResearchStaff
+61 7 334 62924
+61 7 334 62925
peta.harvey@imb.uq.edu.au
Dr Aaron Poth
ResearchStaff
+61 7 334 62026
+61 7 334 62324
a.poth@imb.uq.edu.au

Dr Aurelie Benfield
Research Staff
+61 7 334 62023
+61 7 334 62324
a.benfield@imb.uq.edu.au

Dr Sonia Henriques
ResearchStaff
+61 7 334 62026
+61 7 334 62324
s.henriques@imb.uq.edu.au
Miss Seagull Qu
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62324
+61 7 334 62328
h.qu@imb.uq.edu.au
Ms Anna Bundock
Research Staff
+61 7 334 62324
a.bundock@imb.uq.edu.au
Miss Yen-Hua Huang
ResearchStaff
+61 7 334 62026
+61 7 334 62324
y.huang@imb.uq.edu.au
Dr Christina Schroeder
ResearchStaff
+61 7 334 62021
c.schroeder@imb.uq.edu.au
Dr Angeline Chan
Research Staff
+61 7 334 62024
+61 7 334 62324
angeline.chan@imb.uq.edu.au
Dr Mark Jackson
ResearchStaff
+61 7 334 62014
+61 7 334 62324
m.jackson1@uq.edu.au
Miss Bronwyn Smithies
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62328
b.smithies@imb.uq.edu.au
Mr Olivier Cheneval
ResearchStaff
+61 7 334 62324
+61 7 334 62927
o.cheneval@imb.uq.edu.au
Dr Quentin Kaas
ResearchStaff
+61 7 334 62021
+61 7 334 62324
q.kaas@imb.uq.edu.au
Dr Joakim Swedberg
ResearchStaff
0413 165 805
+61 7 334 62021
j.swedberg@imb.uq.edu.au
Professor David Craik
Group Leader
+61 7 334 62019
+61 7 334 62324
d.craik@imb.uq.edu.au
Dr Meng-Wei Kan
Research Staff
+61 7 334 62049
a.kan@imb.uq.edu.au
Ms Felicitas Vernen
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62023
+61 7 334 62324
f.vernen@imb.uq.edu.au
Miss Breanna Cunniffe
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62023
+61 7 334 62324
breanna.cunniffe@uq.net.au
Dr Nicole Lawrence
ResearchStaff
+61 7 334 62014
n.lawrence@imb.uq.edu.au
Dr Conan Wang
ResearchStaff
+61 7 334 62014
+61 7 334 62324
c.wang@imb.uq.edu.au
Mr Thomas Dash
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62023
+61 7 334 62324
thomas.dash@imb.uq.edu.au
Mr Tony Lee
Volunteer
+61 7 334 62328
menghan.lee@uqconnect.edu.au
Mr Joachim Weidmann
ResearchStaff
+61 7 334 62023
+61 7 334 62324
j.weidmann@imb.uq.edu.au
Mr Simon de Veer
Research Staff
+61 7 334 62021
+61 7 334 62324
s.deveer@imb.uq.edu.au
Miss Choi Yi Li
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62328
choi.li@uq.net.au
Mr Andrew White
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62023
+61 7 334 62324
a.white7@uq.edu.au
Ms Junqiao Du
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62023
+61 7 334 62324
j.du@imb.uq.edu.au
Ms Thi Thuy Linh Nguyen
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62023
+61 7 334 62324
thi.nguyen73@uq.net.au
Mr Xiaosa Wu
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62023
+61 7 334 62324
xiaosa.wu@imb.uq.edu.au
Dr Thomas Durek
ResearchStaff
+61 7 334 62021
+61 7 334 62324
t.durek@imb.uq.edu.au
Miss Georgianna Kae Oguis
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62328
g.oguis@imb.uq.edu.au
Mr Kuok Yap
ResearchStaff
+61 7 334 62328
k.yap@imb.uq.edu.au
Dr Edward Gilding
ResearchStaff
+61 7 334 62014
+61 7 334 62324
e.gilding@imb.uq.edu.au
Mr Gregoire Philippe
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62023
+61 7 334 62324
g.philippe@imb.uq.edu.au
 

 

 

 

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