Venom researcher awarded competitive health and medical fellowship for chronic pain research

26 Sep 2014

IMB Lab Head Professor Paul Alewood has been awarded a competitive National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Principal Research Fellowship to continue his research into developing new pain therapies from venoms.

Professor Alewood will receive a total of $739,980 over five years, and will use the funds to disover peptide-based drugs for pain relief from the venoms of Australian cone snails and spiders.

Professor Alewood is Chair of the Australian Peptide Association and recently received the 2014 Xiaoyu Hu Memorial Award by the Chinese Peptide Society in recognition of his exceptional contributions to basic research in peptide science.

As a chief investigator of the newly launched IMB's Centre for Pain Research, and Chair of the Venoms to Drugs symposium to be held next month, Profesor Alewood is passionate about finding new effective pain treatments and believes venoms may hold the answer.

“Persistent pain is a costly and difficult-to-manage disease,” Professor Alewood said.

“Most of the currently available treatments only provide adequate pain relief in a relatively small number of chronic pain patients, and often come with unwanted side effects, such as addiction.

“My goal is to discover venom peptides that are highly specific for key proteins involved in pain transmission, to offer patients improved pain relief and fewer side effects compared to current-generation pain drugs," he said.

Professor Alewood's fellowship will complement IMB's Centre for Pain Research NHMRC Program Grant in pain pathways to commence in 2015, and he is excited by the potential that venom peptides show for treating persistent pain.

“Peptide therapeutic manufacturing costs are now similar to that of developing more common small molecule drug, and venom peptides have already shown remarkable promise in animal models of pain,” he said.

Professor Alewood was one of only 74 scientists nationally to be awarded an NHMRC research fellowship.

To read more about Professor Alewood’s projects, or to donate to his research, please visit his webpage.


Media contact: IMB Communications on (07) 3346 2134 or