20 December 2013

New screening process of drugs will be cheaper, better and greener

For some people, excess weight and obesity is caused by not receiving signals through G-protein coupled receptors that they are full and as a result they overeat.  The development of new medications that can fix this kind of signal failure and thus obesity is one of the goals of researchers at the Nano-Science Center and it will also contribute to the development of a screening process that are better, cheaper and greener.

- The key to the development of many new medications lies in understanding how G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR) function. They are the target of 40% of all drugs and control fundamental physiological processes that are involved in a wide range of diseases, says Professor Dimitrios Stamou from the Nano-Science Center, Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen. He is the leader of the project GPCR-Nanoscreen: Nanoscale High Content Analysis Assays for G protein coupled receptors, whose aim is to develop new analytical and screening methods for use in the biotech industry. The methods will make the screening process of developing the drug cheaper, better and more environmentally friendly.  
- We will especially look at receptors associated with diseases like obesity, diabetes and asthma, explains Stamou, who recently received 23 million kroner for research from The Danish Council for Strategic Research.

Collaboration with the biotech industry

The new generation of nanoscale analytical and screening methods will make the development of medicine cheaper, better and more environmentally friendly than it is today, and this makes the researchers’ work interesting for the biotech industry. For this project, the research group is working with Novo Nordisk A/S.

- The research is based on fluorescence microscopy of individual cells and individual GPCR proteins, thus requiring minimal amount of biological samples, resulting in lower costs, explains Dimitrios Stamou, who has researched how individual molecules behave for years and this is central to the development of new drugs.

- The development of analytical and screening methods based on an understanding of individual molecules is more accurate than conventional methods, which can only say something about how billions of molecules behave on average.  

- The new analytical and screening methods that we are currently developing will provide us with information about the receptors’ biomolecular interactions, which lead to diabetes and obesity when they are not properly regulated. This is not only important from a biological point of view, but may improve therapeutic methods, for example, better treatments for diabetes, which in the long term will help alleviate diabetes and obesity epidemics, says Dimitrios Stamou.

The development of these new methods is being followed by several biotech companies, both at home and abroad, who have shown great interest in the research group’s work.

Contact: Prof. Dimitrios Stamou; Tel: 2498 1658; Email: stamou@nano.ku.dk