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A man on a drug discovery mission

27 September 2016

A man on a drug discovery mission

A Victoria University of Wellington professor, whose work has led to trials for the treatment of cancers and gout, says New Zealand is carrying out world class research in drug discovery.

Professor Peter Tyler from Victoria’s Ferrier Research Institute’s career in chemistry spans 35 years—and 32 patents for potential drug candidates.

“Drug discovery is absolutely feasible in New Zealand, and we are doing world class research,” says Professor Tyler. “I really relish working on something that I know will ultimately be useful, and provide much needed treatments.”

As he will explain in his upcoming inaugural lecture, when chemistry is partnered with biology, real progress can be made.

“I’ve worked on a number of research projects that have resulted in promising drug candidates. This includes Forodesine, which has been through several clinical trials for T-cell cancers, and Ulodesine, which has successfully completed a phase two clinical trial for gout.

“One of our compounds has also been shown to have efficacy against malaria. Others have demonstrated activity against the disease visceral leishmaniasis—which is a particular problem in Brazil. Another compound is in preclinical development against solid tumours, and has also shown broad activity against several types of cancer.

“We are looking to develop new compounds that target trypanosome parasites—parasites which are the cause of Chagas disease in central and South America, and African sleeping sickness.”

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Professor Tyler will also talk about his research into a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, which recently received more than $850,000 in funding for its development. “Our drug candidates for Alzheimer’s disease are significantly different from others—no one else in the world is using this approach.”

The chemistry created during this research is now being extended into a three-year research study targeting cellular communications, supported by the Marsden Fund.

A Victoria graduate for his Bachelor’s degree and PhD, Professor Tyler joined the University in 2014 when the Ferrier Research Institute was formed. Prior to that, he worked as a scientist at Callaghan Innovation, and the former Industrial Research Limited and Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.

When: 6pm, Tuesday 4 October

Where: Lecture Theatre KKLT301, Level 3, Kirk Building, Kelburn Campus, Victoria University of Wellington

RSVP: Before Friday 30 September. Email with ‘Tyler’ in the subject line or phone 04-463 7458


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