Development of a generic strategy for the stabilisation of peptide-based therapeutics (2007–2010)
There is huge interest in the development of bioactive peptides and proteins for the treatment of a wide range of diseases. However, there are still a number of hurdles that need to be overcome before this source of promising pharmaceuticals can fulfil their vast potential. One of the biggest challenges in the development of peptides and proteins as drugs is overcoming their poor stability in the human body. The broad aim of this research proposal is to develop a novel strategy that provides therapeutically promising peptides and proteins the ability to resist the body s natural degradation pathways so they are able to reach their biological target. To develop this strategy we will use the recently discovered peptide hepcidin as a model system. Hepcidin is the major iron-regulatory hormone in the human body and incorrect levels of this hormone result in either iron overload (haemochromatosis), when there is not enough hepcidin produced by the body, or anemia of inflammation when there is too much hepcidin. The development of hepcidin-based therapeutic agents to treat these conditions has the potential to have significant impact as it has been estimated that up to 1 in 300 Australians are affected by haemochromatosis during their lifetimes. Unfortunately, unmodified peptides, like hepcidin, are of limited therapeutic value due to their poor stability within the human body. This research proposal describes the development of stabilised hepcidin analogues with the potential of being useful drug leads for the treatment of haemochromatosis.