Bio Information Technologies Ltd.
This article was originally published in Start Up
The hunt for drugs that act on G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR) presents a unique challenge in drug discovery, because pharmaceutical researchers don't possess the three-dimensional structure of a single therapeutically relevant GPCR, crucial information that provides a starting point for understanding the function of a receptor, and then designing drugs that bind to it. The founders of Bio-IT have created a program that works at the atomic level to predict the three-dimensional structures of GPCRs. The model uses as inputs amino acid sequence information, geometric algorithms, and physicochemical factors.
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It has always been popular to start companies around families and subfamilies of targets, banking on the similarity among the receptors to speed drug discovery. But the idea largely hasn't panned out, in part because of the new target risk--sometimes they're not pharmaceutically relevant and sometimes they resist the available chemistries. That's why G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) have been so important: they're clearly relevant (many, perhaps most, blockbusters come from this class of receptor) and their unique structure makes them both relatively easy to hit with ligands and likely to do something when hit. But the same structural advantages turn into scientific disadvantages for researchers: they resist screening and other techniques of modern drug discovery. We explore some of the newest approaches to mining this rich vein of opportunity.
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