“Neuronal acid-sensors: Diseases to drugs.”

2013 QTHA Seminar Series

"Understanding the role of acid-sensing ion channels in disease: are the pharmacological tools we have sufficient?"
Dr Lachlan Rash, The University of Queensland
Tuesday 9th July 2013, 11 am James Cook University, Cairns A21.001 Teaching Annex videolinked to James Cook University, Townsville Audio Visual Services room 001 (DA009-001). All welcome.

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Proton concentration (pH) is one of the most strictly controlled physiological parameters. It is not surprising then that many organisms have dedicated proton sensors in the form of ion channels and receptors. Acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) represent primary proton sensing ion channels in chordates where they are distributed throughout the central and peripheral nervous system. Decreases in extracellular pH are associated with ischemia, inflammation and cellular damage, and ASICs play a primary role in many pathological conditions (pain, stroke, multiple sclerosis). Thus, selective modulators of ASICs are essential tools to understand the exact contribution
ASICs make to these debilitating conditions. There are now several small molecule and venom peptide modulators of ASICs with varied selectivity and mechanisms of action. This presentation covers what we know about the pharmacology of these tools and more importantly what we don't know and the implications it has for  understanding the therapeutic potential of this novel ion channel family. The therapeutic potential of ASIC blockade will be discussed in the context of chronic pain and stroke.

Dr Lachlan Rash completed his Honours (1996) and PhD (2001) on the pharmacological activity of spider venoms at
the Department of Pharmacology, Monash University in the group of Professor Wayne Hodgson. After 18 months as an Assistant Lecturer at Monash Pharmacology, he was awarded an INSERM/NH&MRC Post-doctoral Fellowship to work in the group of Prof. Michel Lazdunski at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology in Antibes, France. It was here that he became involved in discovery and characterisation of venom peptides that act on acid-sensing ion channels and other pain related channels. Upon returning to Australia to the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (The University of Queensland), he established an ASIC research program and was awarded an NH&MRC project grant as CIA to investigate the molecular basis of the interaction of PcTx1 and APETx2 with ASIC1a and ASIC3 respectively. He is also interested in identifying novel bioactive peptides from Australian tarantula venoms and their use as research tools and potential therapeutic lead molecules.

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