Drug Discovery, Repurposing Therapeutics and Biomarkers

Our Novel Treatment Discovery team focusses on developing new treatments for many prevalent health problems. We aim to help those in our community whose lives and livelihoods are disrupted by complex and difficult to treat chronic health problems.

Led by Theme Leader Professor Ken Walder and Deputy Theme Leader Professor Wei Duan, our researchers work to:

  • Find new uses for existing drugs, known as drug repurposing, by taking medications with known safety profiles currently used for one disease and developing them for the treatment of a different disease
  • Discover new drugs and drug delivery strategies to enhance beneficial effects, including being able to target drugs to specific parts of the body to increase their useful effects while reducing unwanted side-effects
  • Find new and better ways of diagnosing diseases and monitoring treatment outcomes, developing novel probes and biomarkers to enable clinicians to have greater insight and more effective use of therapeutics

Currently, the treatment of many of the most common and debilitating diseases in our local and global community is less than optimal. Our researchers have strong partnerships with industry, healthcare providers and governments to improve and expand the range of available treatments.

Our work directly improves the outcomes and quality of life for people suffering from chronic conditions. Earlier diagnosis of diseases such as dementia, targeted treatment of various cancers and intervention in stroke will improve long-term outcomes for patients, whilst an improved assessment of treatment responses will optimise individual treatment regimens. Our researchers also enable targeted strategies for diseases that are currently difficult to treat, such as the challenges posed by safely getting drugs to the brain, which will improve lives for patients.

Our world-renowned research team has several projects currently running, including:

  • drug repurposing for chronic fatigue syndrome and mental health disorders, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and depression
  • development of novel molecular probes for early diagnosis of diseases and monitoring treatment responses
  • development of aptamers as therapeutic delivery agents for the treatment of cancers and neurological disorders
  • controlled delivery of drugs to enhance bioavailability and targeting of specific organs, resulting in improved therapeutic efficacy and reduced side effects
  • medical matrices to enhance targeted drug delivery and replacement of damaged tissue
  • biomedical drug discovery and tissue engineering
  • targeting iron overload in brain cancer
  • epigenomic therapies

We are also committed to creating sustainable jobs, training the next generation of clinical researchers, and developing high-value products within an overarching vision to ultimately benefit those in the community who are most in need.

Team profiles:

Professor Wei Duan Deputy Theme Leader
Dr Rasika Samarasinghe Group Leader - Epigenomic Mechanisms and Therapeutics
A/Prof. Sarah Shigdar Group Leader - Laboratory of Aptamer Theranostics
Dr Richard Williams Group Leader - Medical Matrices
Dr Phuong Tran Group Leader - Nanopharmaceuticals
Dr Veer Gupta Group Leader - Neurodegeneration and Biomarkers
Dr Tamsyn Crowley Group Leader - Biomarkers and Bioinformatics
Dr Roey Elnathan Group Leader - Nanobiotechnology and ARC Future Fellow.