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MRC collaborates with Pfizer on enigmatic drug targets

Published on 16/03/05 at 12:19pm

Pfizer has entered into a collaboration with the UK's Medical Research Council commercial arm to develop new drug discovery techniques.

Medical Research Council Technology (MRCT) and Pfizer are co-funding research into better understanding  the three dimensional structure of human G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) - molecules which are key to a number of disease mechanisms but whose structure remains a mystery.

Many of the world's most widely prescribed drugs act on GPCRs, from cancer, allergies, heart disease, migraine and stomach ulcers. The partners will fund work into discovering the secrets of the molecules at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, with the aim of eventually developing new drugs to target them more effectively.

"We are delighted that Pfizer has matched our funding for the MRC's Laboratory of Molecular Biology's initiative," said MRCT's chief executive Roberto Solario. "The science involved in this project is cutting-edge, and our hope is that it might lead to the elucidation of GPCR structures and thereby aid the identification of medicines to treat a broad range of diseases."

The structure of only one GPCR has been solved to date, the photoreceptor in the eye (bovine rhodopsin). This was possible because the molecule structure is very stable and therefore robust. The researchers aim to develop techniques of making other GPCRs as stable as rhodopsin and thus make possible work to solve their structure.


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