The publication of the first draft of the human genome in 2001, coupled with the advent of “designer drugs”, is generally agreed by scientists from many disciplines as a milestone in human endeavour. These were advancements worthy of marking the threshold of a new millennium. In terms of pharmaceutical development, these were meant to provide a host of new drug targets and provide a base for rational drug design that would usher in a golden age of profitability for the industry and serve to generate a plethora of new therapeutics for the major intractable diseases of humankind. Alas to date, this has not been realised and the pipelines of many if not most major pharma have been reduced to trickles if they have not effectively ceased to flow.

Is now the time to return to the traditional methods of unravelling the accumulated wisdom of Nature? Could the pinnacle of peptide signalling and targeted evolution reside in the arsenals of “smart” peptide weaponry found in animal venoms?

Prof Chris Shaw’s remarkable research over the past 20 years has resulted in peptides that offer a new approach because they come from the cells and tissues of living organisms, namely amphibians, sourcing molecules of Life rather than Death.

Prof Shaw will describe how his research has the potential to change the pharmaceutical industry.

Prof Chris Shaw is Professor in Drug Discovery within the School of Pharmacy, Queens University Belfast. Prof Shaw's exciting work involves the discovery and characterisation of biologically active agents within Nature, most notably from amphibian venoms that are harvested worldwide. High-throughput molecular technologies involving de novo peptide sequencing, "shotgun" cDNA cloning and pharmacological screening is directed towards the functional genomic understanding of peptidomes, thus allowing rapid acquisition of structural data and the generation of peptide molecular libraries for sourcing novel drug leads.

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