A QUT researcher who engineered sunflower seed proteins that will help sufferers of itchy and scratchy skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis and rosacea has received the highly sought after Australian Society for Medical Research Queensland Post-graduate Award.
Simon de Veer, from QUT’s IHBI (Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation), received the prestigious award for his research on engineering naturally occurring cyclic peptides (small proteins) found in sunflower seeds that inhibit over-activity of the proteases (enzymes) responsible for regulating skin’s regeneration.
“Proteases in the skin are involved with shedding old cells from the skin’s surface by breaking the connections which normally hold them together as part of a protective barrier,” Mr de Veer said.
“This process requires a balancing mechanism to maintain healthy skin structure and thickness – if there is too much activity the skin becomes more permeable and susceptible to allergens, infection and water loss.
“The skin disorders that can result from this over-shedding of skin cells have far-reaching health, psychosocial and economic impacts for sufferers.”
Mr de Veer’s research supervisor Associate Professor Jonathan Harris said the award would have significant benefits for his career as a biomedical scientist.
“Simon’s work addresses not only treatment of skin disorders but also provides a more general platform for design of new drugs for a variety of diseases including cancer and microbial infections,” Associate Professor Harris said.
(Source: Queensland University of Technology)