Professor Mark von Itzstein, Institute for Glycomics, Griffith University, Southport, QLD
Viruses, parasites and bacteria utilise host cell resident carbohydrates, on many occasions sialic acids, and their own carbohydrate-recognising proteins to invade their host, facilitate their lifecycle and as a consequence produce disease. For example, a significant human health burden is observed annually for viruses such as influenza virus, rotavirus, parainfluenza virus and dengue virus and these viruses have essential carbohydrate recognition processes in their life cycles that provide possible drug discovery targets.1-4
Our interest in these essential pathogen carbohydrate recognition processes have led us to explore, using a multidisciplinary approach, a number of sialic acid–recognizing proteins associated with various pathogens. Aspects of our most recent work and advances towards a better understanding of these processes in the context of sialic acid recognition will be presented.
1. Haselhorst, T. et al. Nat. Chem. Biol. 2009, 5, 91-93. 2. Haselhorst, T. et al. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2011, 50,1055-1058. 3. Rudrawar, S. et al. Nat. Commun. 2010, 1(8):113. 4. von Itzstein, M. Nat. Rev. Drug Discov. 2007, 6:967-974.
Professor Mark von Itzstein is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and a joint recipient of the prestigious Australia Prize (1996). He is one of the leading scientists responsible for the design and synthesis of the anti-influenza drug, Relenza®, which has been approved for the treatment of influenza worldwide since 1999. This discovery is considered to be a significant outcome and flagship in glycotherapeutic drug development in the last century and has further consolidated the world platform of using carbohydrates as drugs and carbohydrate-recognising proteins as drug discovery targets.
Professor von Itzstein is the Director of Griffith University’s Institute for Glycomics which is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere and only one of a few in the world. The Institute’s researchers collaborate with leading scientists around the globe to build a critical mass around carbohydrate-based research in areas of clinically significant diseases.
Professor von Itzstein has a major research effort in the area of drug discovery focused on influenza and other viruses, drug-resistant bacteria and cancer. He has international standing in glycoscience and drug discovery particularly in the area of anti-infective drug discovery.