<b>Professor Richard Lewis</b><br>
Group Leader, Chemistry and Structural Biology Division<br>
Director, Centre for Pain Research<p>
P: +61 7 3346 2984<br>
E: r.lewis@imb.uq.edu.au<p>
<b>Keywords</b><br>
- chronic pain<br>
- peptides<br>
- drug discovery<br>
- drug development
Professor Richard Lewis
Group Leader, Chemistry and Structural Biology Division
Director, Centre for Pain Research

P: +61 7 3346 2984
E: r.lewis@imb.uq.edu.au

Keywords
- chronic pain
- peptides
- drug discovery
- drug development

Pharmacology of marine toxins

Our research explores the mechanisms of how the body feels pain and uses this knowledge to develop new drugs to combat chronic pain. To do this, we study conotoxins, which are small peptides from predatory marine snails that are very active in pain pathways and could provide the basis for a new class of pain management drugs with fewer side effects.

These mini proteins act selectively at a wide range of ion channels, receptors and transporters found in the membranes of cells. This research starts with the discovery of new venom peptides, the synthesis of these peptides, studying their effects on tissues and receptors, cellular imaging of functional effects, through to finally co-crystal structures and docking models revealing how the peptide binds to its target.

Several conotoxins discovered by our scientists have been taken into the clinic, including Xen2174 for severe pain. In addition, we are studying how another class of marine toxins called ciguatoxins produce the debilitating disease known as ciguatera.

During the past 12 months, we have discovered new mechanism of peptide diversification through processing and transcriptomic messiness; identified peripherally analgesic ω-conotoxins, which are being developed as a new pain treatment, and defined a key role of potassium channels in the activity of nerves associated with cold pain. In addition, we have worked closely with industry partners to develop our novel findings, supported with the award of two new ARC Linkage grants to investigate spider toxins and small molecule blockers of sodium channels in pain pathways.

Professor Richard Lewis currently leads a Program Grant in Pain Research from the NHMRC and is Director of IMB's Centre for Pain Research.

Make a difference to Professor Lewis' research by donating today.

Research in the news

30 July 2014 - Pain...finding new ways to treat it (612 ABC Afternoons with Kelly Higgins-Devine)

Research training opportunities

Please see IMB's postgraduate website for more information. 

Key publications

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

Vetter I, Touska F, Hess A, Hinsbey R, Sattler S, Lampert A, Sergejeva M, Sharov A, Collins LS, Eberhardt M, Engel M, Cabot PJ, Wood JN, Vlachová V, Reeh PW,Lewis RJ, Zimmermann K. (2012) Ciguatoxins activate specific cold pain pathways to elicit burning pain from cooling. EMBO J. 31:3795-3808.

Lewis RJ (2012) Discovery and development of the χ-conopeptide class of analgesic peptides. Toxicon 59:524-528.

Lewis RJ, Dutertre, S, Vetter I, Christie MC (2012) Conus venom peptide pharmacology. Pharmacol. Reviews 60:259-298.

Dutertre S, Jin AH, Kaas Q, Jones A, Alewood PF, Lewis RJ. (2013) Deep venomics reveals the mechanism for expanded peptide diversity in cone snail venom. Mol Cell Proteomics 12:312-329.

Dutertre S, Jin A-H, Vetter I, Hamilton B, Sunagar K, Lavergne V, Dutertre V, Fry BG, Antunes A, Venter DJ, Alewood PF, Lewis RJ (2014) Evolution of separate predation- and defence-evoked venoms in carnivorous cone snails. Nature Communications 5:3521.

Group contacts

Ms Nikita Abraham
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62986
n.abraham@imb.uq.edu.au
Mr Kapil Jain
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62986
kapil.jain@imb.uq.edu.au
Ms Blessy Paul
Research staff
+61 7 334 62374
b.paul@imb.uq.edu.au
Ms Asa Andersson
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62374
a.andersson@imb.uq.edu.au
Ms Prerna Jha
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62374
p.jha@imb.uq.edu.au
Mr Gregory Quaife-Ryan
Research adjunct
+61 7 334 62984
g.quaiferyan@uq.edu.au
Dr Fernanda Caldas Cardoso
Research staff
+61 7 62986
f.caldascardoso@imb.uq.edu.au
Mr Prashanth Jutty Rajan
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62374
p.juttyrajan@imb.uq.edu.au

Dr Lotten Ragnarsson-McGrath
Research staff
+61 7 334 62986
l.ragnarsson-mcgrath@imb.uq.edu.au

Mr Andrew Deuis
Research staff
+61 7 334 62374
a.deuis@imb.uq.edu.au

Professor Richard Lewis
Group leader
+61 7 334 62984
r.lewis@imb.uq.edu.au

Ms Silmara Rodrigues de Sousa
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62374
s.desousa@imb.uq.edu.au
Ms Jennifer Deuis
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62374
s.dutertre@imb.uq.edu.au
Mr Zhenyao Luo
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62986
z.luo@imb.uq.edu.au
Mr Mitchell Skinner
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62986
mitchell.skinner@uqconnect.edu.au
Mr Simon Foster
Support staff
+61 7 334 62986
s.foster1@uq.edu.au
Ms Sarah McClounan
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62986
s.mcclounan@imb.uq.edu.au
Mr Josh Wingerd
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62378
j.wingerd@imb.uq.edu.au
Dr Jean Giacomotto
Research staff
+61 7 334 62986
j.giacomotto@imb.uq.edu.au
Mr Hoshyar Mohialdeen
Research staff
+61 7 334 62986
h.mohialdeen@imb.uq.edu.au
 

Dr Marco Inserra
Research staff
+61 7 334 62374
m.inserra@imb.uq.edu.au

Ms Thea Monks
Research staff
+61 7 334 62983
t.monks@imb.uq.edu.au 
 

 

 

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