Chemistry and human therapeutics

Studying the molecular mechanisms of life, ageing, disease and death

The Fairlie Group work at the interface of chemistry and biology to better understand the molecular mechanisms of life, ageing, disease and death.

The chemists within the group study medicinal chemistry, organic synthesis, and computer-aided drug design; use nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to investigate the structure and dynamics of proteins; and learn how small molecules interact with other small molecules, proteins, RNA and DNA.

They discover new chemical structures, reactions and mechanisms; enzyme inhibitors, agonists and antagonists; and molecules that mimic the structures and functions of bioactive protein surfaces.

The biologists within the group use these novel compounds to explain the functions of human proteins and cells, and apply them to treat animal models of human diseases.

They study mechanisms of protein and cell activation, biological processes, disease development and drug action.

    Research overview

    “Scientists within our laboratory combine their expertise across these fields to gain insights into human physiology and disease pathology, and develop skills in biochemistry, pharmacology, virology, immunology, oncology or neurobiology,” said Group Leader Professor David Fairlie.

     “They are working, in some cases with industry partners, to discover new drugs and treatments for viral and parasite infections, such as HIV, dengue fever and malaria; inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease; metabolic and cardiovascular diseases resulting from obesity and type 2 diabetes; cancers; and neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and stroke.”

    Their research on diseases involves basic, strategic and applied research in biochemistry, pharmacology and virology. It is directed at understanding:

    • How the immune system resolves infection (by parasites, viruses, bacteria) and tissue injury;
    • How prolonged inflammatory responses can cause debilitating chronic inflammatory diseases, including onset of cancersmetabolic diseases (obesity, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular diseases), chronic inflammatory pain, and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer's disease);
    • How our novel compounds can act on human proteins, human and rodent cells and tissues, and rat or mouse models of human diseases.

    Research projects

    Our research on diseases involves basic, strategic and applied research in biochemistry, pharmacology and virology directed at:

    1. understanding how the immune system resolves infection (by parasites, viruses, bacteria) and tissue injury
    2. how prolonged inflammatory responses can cause debilitating chronic inflammatory diseases, including onset of cancers, metabolic diseases (obesity, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular diseases), chronic inflammatory pain, and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer's disease)
    3. how our novel compounds can act on human proteins, human and rodent cells and tissues, and rat or mouse models of human diseases. See links for our publications in all of these disease areas and allied chemical, biochemical and pharmacological research.

    Chemistry researchers in our group develop expertise in medicinal chemistry and organic chemistry, using solution and solid phase organic synthesis; structure determination through 2D NMR spectroscopy; computer-aided drug design; and study interactions between small molecules and proteins, DNA and RNA.

    Outcomes are new chemical reactions, new chemical mechanisms, new organic compounds, new chemical structures, novel enzyme inhibitors, protein agonists and antagonists, and structural mimics of protein surfaces as new leads to drugs, diagnostics and vaccines.

    Biology researchers in our group interrogate human and viral proteins and human cell/tissue function, and elucidate mechanisms of protein activation, biological/physiological processes, viral infection, disease development, and drug action. Some researchers study rat or mouse models of human diseases.

    Researchers gain insights to human physiology or aberrant processes in disease, and develop interdisciplinary skills in enzymology, biochemistry, pharmacology, immunology, virology, parasitology, oncology or neurobiology.

    To discuss the group's projects further, call Professor David Fairlie on +61 7 3346 2989 or email d.fairlie@imb.uq.edu.au

    Research training opportunities

    Research title: Chemistry and human therapeutics

    Summary of research interests: Our group investigates molecular mechanisms of chemical reactions, biological processes, disease development and drug action. Understanding how molecules interact, how chemical and biological reactions work, and how structure influences activity enables us to design, synthesise and evaluate enzyme inhibitors, receptor antagonists and protein-binding ligands as new drugs for cancer, infectious diseases, inflammatory disorders, type 2 diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease. Chemists in our group discover new drugs. Pharmacologists, biochemists and cell biologists in our group study actions on human cells and in animal models of diseases.

    Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include

    • Drug design and discovery (computer-assisted, structure, dynamics, virtual techniques)
    • Medicinal chemistry (organic synthesis, NMR structures, drug development)
    • Drug mechanisms of action (cell biology, signalling pathways, enzymology, GPCRs)
    • Pharmacology (rodent models of inflammatory diseases, metabolic diseases, type 2 diabetes, cancers, Alzheimer’s disease).

    Contact: Professor David Fairlie

    +61 7 3346 2013
    d.fairlie@imb.uq.edu.au


    Find out more about Research Training at IMB:

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    Featured publications

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    Engagement and impact

    Scientists within our laboratory combine their expertise across the fields of chemistry, biochemistry and pharmacology, to gain insights into human physiology and disease pathology, and develop skills in biochemistry, pharmacology, virology, immunology, oncology or neurobiology. They are working, in some cases with industry partners, to discover new drugs and treatments for: viral and parasite infections, such as HIV, dengue fever and malaria; inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease; metabolic and cardiovascular diseases resulting from obesity and type 2 diabetes; cancers; and neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and stroke.

    During the year, we pioneered a new method to downsize proteins to small molecules with protein-like functions and potencies. This discovery can help researchers discover affordable new medicines. Our lab also shown that the presence of an inflammatory protein called PAR2 in abdominal fat tissue of humans and rats correlates with obesity. Drugs that bound to this inflammatory protein were able to prevent and treat diet-induced obesity in rats.

    Partners and collaborators

    As part of the Queensland Emory Development Alliance, we began a formal collaboration with colleagues at QIMR Berghofer, Brisbane, and Emory University, Atlanta, US, to investigate how to block a pathway responsible for intractable forms of breast cancer, potentially leading to a new cancer therapy.
     

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    Prof David Fairlie

    Professor David Fairlie

    Head, Chemistry and Structural Biology Division

    Investigator, Centre for Inflammation and Disease Research

    Investigator, Centre for Pain Research

      +61 7 3346 2989  
      d.fairlie@imb.uq.edu.au
      IMB Researcher Profile
      Centre for Inflammation and Disease Research


    Partner with Professor Fairlie

    Support Professor Fairlie's research

      Group Leader

    • Professor David Fairlie

      Division Head & Group Leader, Chemistry and Structural Biology Division
      NHMRC Snr Principal Research Fellow
      Institute for Molecular Bioscience

      Researchers

      Students

    • Mr Yuanzhao Cao

      Higher degree by research (PhD) student
      Institute for Molecular Bioscience
    • Mr Darren Do

      Higher degree by research (PhD) student
      Institute for Molecular Bioscience
    • Mr Lilong Dong

      Higher degree by research (PhD) student
      Institute for Molecular Bioscience
    • Ms Yuhong Jiang

      Higher degree by research (PhD) student
      Institute for Molecular Bioscience
    • Miss Geraldine Ler

      Higher degree by research (PhD) student
      Institute for Molecular Bioscience
    • Ms Eunice Poon

      Higher degree by research (PhD) student
      Institute for Molecular Bioscience
    • Ms Jiahui Tng

      Higher degree by research (PhD) student
      Institute for Molecular Bioscience
    • Miss Peiqi Wang

      Higher degree by research (PhD) student
      Institute for Molecular Bioscience
    • Mr Chongyang Wu

      Higher degree by research (PhD) student
      Institute for Molecular Bioscience
    • Mr Justin Mitchell

      Higher degree by research (PhD) student
      Institute for Molecular Bioscience
    • Miss Jessica Rowley

      Higher degree by research (PhD) student
      Institute for Molecular Bioscience
    • Ms Maddison McLaughlin

      Honours student
      Institute for Molecular Bioscience

      Support staff