LOS ANGELES & SHANGHAI—A new international initiative, the GPCR Consortium, launched this week with the goal of increasing knowledge of and generating high-resolution photos of the pivotal proteins known as G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). Eight hundred and twenty-six GPCRs control the human body, and these proteins are implicated in several diseases.
Amgen, Sanofi and Ono Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. are the founding industry members of the consortium, which was started by Prof. Raymond Stevens and is coordinated by Dr. Michael Hanson. The research will be conducted at three academic sites—iHuman Institute at ShanghaiTech University, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica (a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences) and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles—though it is not limited to these sites.
“Industry and academic consortia like the not-for-profit Structural Genomics Consortium are becoming a more common model to support scientific research on the international scale, including the open exchange of data and reagents, including compounds,” Stevens, founding director of the iHuman Institute at ShanghaiTech University and Provost Professor of Biology and Chemistry at University of Southern California, said in a press release. “By working together, we can maximize the impact of our research on human health and disease while providing a means to support early-stage basic research and bring together academic and industry scientists in a productive working relationship.”
“The academic groups involved in the consortium have published both the first human GPCR structure and the majority of GPCR structure-function and discovery data, including structures from the major classes of the GPCR family,” Hanson, president of the GPCR Consortium, added. “The importance of this family of proteins for human health cannot be overstated as communication with the environment is a hallmark of higher functioning organisms and GPCRs play a central role in this process.”
The consortium will aim to attract up to five additional industry members to aid in the goal of determining the structures of 200 of the 826 known GPCRs prioritized in disease areas such as cancer, diabetes and mental disorders. All research yield, such as 3D GPCR structures and constructs, will be placed in the public domain.
“We are very pleased to be one of the founding industry members of this prestigious consortium. By working together with the leading academics in GPCR structural biology, many of whom are co-located with our Asia R&D Center in Shanghai, we can better synergize our efforts in understanding human biology at molecular level and advancing drug discovery in diseases where GPCRs play significant roles, including cancer, metabolic and CNS disorders,” Dr. Mingqiang Zhang, head of Amgen Asia R&D Center, commented in a statement.
“Sanofi is passionate about improving health worldwide, and to deliver on that, we are committed to collaborating with the world’s best researchers and scientists,” Dr. Frank Jiang, head of Asia Pacific R&D Hub, Sanofi, said in a press release. “With global diabetes sufferers expected to increase to 592 million before 2035, and the rates in Asia Pacific region set to soar, I am confident that our partnership with the GPCR Consortium will combine our strengths and insights and bring us one step closer to a breakthrough in treatment benefiting the regional and global diabetes patients.”
SOURCE: Ono Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. press release