Conopeptides as potential pain therapeutics


Dissecting mechanisms of chronic pain using patch clamp analyses of cellular and synaptic electrophysiology in spinal cord slices and behavioural correlations.


Professor Macdonald Christie

Research Location

Camperdown - School of Medical Sciences

Program Type



New therapeutics to treat persistent pain states are likely to emerge from deeper understanding of signalling molecules that are specifc to pain pathways and pathological changes in signalling. Novel marine snail toxins (conopeptides) are powerful tools to identify key signaling molecules in pain pathways in normal and injured tissue.  Thousands of different conopeptides have evolved in these predatory snails so that their venom very rapidly inactivates the nerves of their prey.  The potential utility of conopeptides in pain (one is already in clinical use) stems from their high potency to very specifically block individual types of excitability molecules on nerve cells, some of which give rise to pain states.  Our group was recently the first to identify the preclinical therapeutic potential of blockers of subtypes of sodium channels that are encoded only by pain sensing nerves entering the spinal cord and thereby treat pain resulting nerve injury. This project will involve investigation of the mechanisms of action of novel TTX-resistant sodium channel blockers, subtype selective calcium channel blockers, subtype selective nicotinic channel blockers and acid sensing ion channel blockers in primary afferent and spinal neurons. The project will use patch clamp electrophysiological analysis of mechanisms of action of novel conotoxins in spinal cord slices and determine their efficacy in neuropathic pain models.

Additional Information

As part of PMRI and the Kolling Institute you would have access to state of the art electrophysiological, molecular biological and optical techniques and be part of the largest group of scientists dedicated to the study of pain in Australia.

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neuropathic pain, chronic pain, neuralgia, Pain, analgesia, opioids, ion channels, sensory neuron, spinal cord, Therapeutics & adverse drug effects, Pain & Trauma, Neuroscience & psychology, Pharmacology & therapeutics

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 151

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