International GPCR Consortium Announces Addition of New Members Novo Nordisk and Merck & Co., Inc

International Collaboration’s initial focus is to solve 3D structures of significant drug targets for diabetes, cancer and mental disorders

LOS ANGELES, and SHANGHAI, Feb. 10th, 2015 – The GPCR Consortium, an international nonprofit collaboration that comprises leading academic research institutes in the United States and China and major pharmaceutical companies from around the world, today announced two new members. Novo Nordisk and Merck & Co., Inc, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, have joined Amgen, Sanofi and Ono in the GPCR Consortium, bringing the current pharma membership to five. The research funded by the GPCR Consortium is currently conducted at the Bridge Institute at the University of Southern California, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, and the iHuman Institute at ShanghaiTech University.

Launched officially in October of last year, the GPCR Consortium is the largest pre-competitive research effort to explore G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) to improve drug discovery and development. GPCRs are highly valued as drug targets but poorly understood mechanistically. The GPCR Consortium’s goal is to comparatively study the structure and function of 200 human GPCRs and help design better drugs. With 826 human GPCRs known today, this super family of proteins is involved in regulating a broad range of human physiology and disease, from taste to cancer.

“We believe that additional high-resolution structural information can provide new information about how GPCRs work and greatly aid the design of new drug candidates targeting these receptors,” said Michael Hanson, Ph.D., president, GPCR Consortium. “With our two newest additions, Novo Nordisk and Merck, we are close to fulfilling our goal of eight pharma members, which will allow us to expand our knowledge of GPCRs. The compounds these companies have from internal discovery efforts are critical in unlocking new insights into receptor structure and function.”

Through the GPCR Consortium, pharma members participate in the groundbreaking research in the GPCR field and complement their discovery efforts. The GPCR Consortium has initially prioritized solving the structures of GPCRs involved in diabetes, cancer, and mental disorders. The GPCR consortium is data-centric, with the primary objective being dissemination of protein structural coordinates, reagents and supporting data to both the consortium members and the broader scientific community. All research outputs, such as three-dimensional structures of GPCRs and constructs, will be compiled and placed in the public domain.

“Of the 826 known human GPCRs, today we only have structures of 26,” said Peter Kurtzhals, Head of Global Research, Novo Nordisk. “The GPCR Consortium has created a unique opportunity to bring together the complementary skill sets and resources of pharmaceutical companies and academic research centers to study 200 additional human GPCRs, relevant to human disease and therapeutic intervention, in an organized and targeted fashion.”

“Merck has a proud history of pioneering discoveries in GPCR structure and function through collaborations with leading academic scientists,” said John Hunter, Ph.D., Vice President & Head of Pharmacology, Merck Research Laboratories.  “We believe the GPCR Consortium provides a strong platform to facilitate pharma and academic collaboration to advance understanding of this therapeutically important class of membrane-bound proteins.”

About GPCR Consortium

The GPCR Consortium is a not-for-profit entity started in June 2014 to bring together industry and academic scientists with the goal of providing pre-competitive access to structural information, materials and related data, which will be generated at academic sites.  That data generated will be compiled and deposited in the public domain. The consortium members contribute chemical compounds and nominate GPCR targets prioritized in disease areas that initially include diabetes, cancer, and mental disorders in order to maximize the impact on human health. Members include Amgen, Sanofi, Ono, Novo Nordisk and Merck & Co., Inc, and research funded by the consortium is currently conducted at the Bridge Institute at the University of Southern California, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, and the iHuman Institute at ShanghaiTech University. For more information visit