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Peptide Therapeutics for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IRB Barcelona Alumni Award Seminar):


Organizer: IRB Barcelona Biomed Seminars/ IRB Barcelona Alumni

Date: Friday 24 November 2023, 12:00 h
Place: Fèlix Serratosa conference room

Speaker: Markus Muttenthaler, Group Leader at the University of Vienna (Austria), and at the University of Queensland (Australia). IRB Barcelona Alumni Award 2022.

Title: "Peptide Therapeutics for Gastrointestinal Disorders"

Host: IRB Barcelona Alumni Network



Peptides have emerged as a therapeutically and commercially important drug class owing to their exceptional specificity, potency and low toxicity. They also serve as invaluable research tools, enabling the investigation of the physiological functions of receptors and underlying
mechanisms of various diseases. The profound impact of peptide research is evident with the approval of over 80 peptide therapeutics approved and more than 150 peptides undergoing clinical trials, supporting innovative treatments for numerous conditions, including diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, gastrointestinal disorders, obesity and pain.

A main limitation of peptides is their intrinsic susceptibility to proteolytic degradation and lack of oral bioavailability. Nevertheless, several peptide families exist that are produced and function effectively in the gastrointestinal tract, arguably one of the most hostile environments for peptides. Our interest lies in understanding the structural makeup of these peptides to comprehend how they can function in such an environment and to utilise this knowledge for the development of gut-specific peptide therapeutics.

One intriguing group we study is the intriguing trefoil factor family (TFF) which displays a rigid disulfide bond-stabilised multiloop structure reminiscent of a trefoil. TFF peptides play a crucial role in gastrointestinal protection and repair, offering promising therapeutic potential for the treatment and prevention of gastrointestinal disorders.

In addition, we have systematically evaluated other naturally occurring peptide scaffolds and medicinal chemistry approaches to identify new strategies for the development of oral and gut-specific peptide therapeutics.
Drawing upon these studies, we have successfully developed several oral therapeutic lead candidates addressing unmet medical needs, such as chronic abdominal pain, gastrointestinal biofilms, and irritable bowel syndrome. These fundamentally new approaches represent a major step forward in the field of peptide drug development and hold great promise for improving the lives of patients suffering from chronic gastrointestinal disorders.


IRB Barcelona BioMed Seminar


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