2007 Hans and Marlies Zimmer International Scholar

Professor Mark von Itzstein

Professor Mark von Itzstein Griffith University (Gold Coast Campus) Queensland, Australia

The Department of Chemistry at the University of Cincinnati is very pleased to present the fifth series of lecture-visits by international scholars actively engaged in areas of frontier chemical research.

Mark von Itzstein completed his PhD in organic chemistry at Griffith University in 1984, and was awarded an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship to carry out research at the University of Marburg in Germany. His internationally renowned career as a carbohydrate chemist began in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at Monash University in 1986. In February 2000 Mark returned to Griffith University to establish the Institute for Glycomics. This Institute has, as it's mission, the task of discovering clinically-useful medicines through intervention of carbohydrate-related disease processes.

Mark received the Alexander von Humboldt Forschungspreis in 2001, which is awarded to a small number of international scientists annually. Then in 2002 Mark was awarded a Federation Fellowship, Australia's most prestigious research fellowship. He was elected to Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2003.

Mark is one of the leading scientists responsible for the design and synthesis of the anti-influenza drug, Relenza®, which has been approved for the treatment of influenza worldwide. As one of the key players in the drug's development, Mark was awarded the prestigious Australia Prize for Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1996. This discovery is considered to be a significant outcome and flagship in glycotherapeutic drug development in the last century and has further consolidated the world platform of using carbohydrates as drugs and carbohydrate-recognising proteins as drug discovery targets.

Mark has international standing in glycoscience and drug discovery particularly in the area of anti-infective drug discovery. In the light of the most recent pandemic influenza threat, Mark has established a research program that is investigating the discovery of next generation anti-influenza drugs.

 

Pandemic Influenza -
The Re-emergence of an Old Threat
Mark von Itzstein

The important roles of carbohydrates and the proteins that recognise them in biological processes are broad in Nature. When these roles are associated with a disease a potential drug discovery opportunity can be presented. Various clinically significant pathogens, including viruses, parasites and bacteria utilize carbohydrates and their associated proteins to invade their host, facilitate their lifecycle and as a consequence produce disease. Viruses such as influenza virus, rotavirus, and dengue virus all have essential carbohydrate recognition processes in their replicative cycles that present possible drug discovery targets.

We have had a long-term interest in the discovery of novel influenza virus sialidase inhibitors that may provide the next generation anti-influenza drugs. The Drug Discovery process, the history of influenza virus sialidase inhibitor discovery and some of our most recent work and advances towards the development of drugs to treat or prevent influenza, including pandemic influenza, will be presented.