University of Helsinki - Articles and news items

FIGURE 1 Schematic overview of a typical homology modelling procedure that is used to build threedimensional coordinates for a protein of unknown structure

Status and challenges in structure-based drug discovery for G protein-coupled receptors

Drug Targets, Issue 6 2011 / 13 December 2011 / Henri Xhaard, Head of Computational Drug Discovery Group, Centre for Drug Research, University of Helsinki

The central location of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) at the interface between the interior and exterior of cells, as well as their key role in signalling events, make GPCRs a prominent class of pharmaceutical targets. To date, approximately 40 per cent of known drugs are thought to act on GPCRs either directly or indirectly. GPCRs are for the most part inaccessible to structural determination due to difficulties to express, purify and crystallise them; however, progress of structure determination has led to seven new structures in the last decade. This number is still insufficient to conduct structure-based drug discovery on all available targets. Computational modelling is therefore a very useful surrogate and in this paper I discuss the reliability of atomistic three-dimensional models that are obtained through molecular modelling in light of the GPCRdock 2008 and 2010 competitions organised by the Scripps Institute. G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) are key proteins involved in signalling and as such are prominent drug targets. Ligands that bind to GPCRs include small aminergic neuro – transmitters or hormones such as noradrenaline and adrenaline, dopamine, histamine, small peptides, nucleic acids, lipids or even opsins that contain light-reactive retinal chromophores. Altogether, in the human genome project, about 390 non-olfactory GPCRs have been identified; of which about 100 are orphan proteins without an identified ligand or cellular function…

A process analytical tool

Issue 1 2005, Past issues / 7 March 2005 / Jukka Rantanen, Senior Research Scientist, Viikki Drug Discovery Technology Centre, University of Helsinki

There is an increasing demand for new approaches to understand the chemical and physical phenomena that occur during pharmaceutical unit operations. Obtaining real-time information from processes opens new perspectives for safer manufacture of pharmaceuticals. Raman spectroscopy provides a molecular level insight into processing and it is therefore a promising process analytical tool.


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