Researchers map trends in drug development


One third of all approved drugs act on the same kind of important cell receptor – the G protein-coupled receptor, or GPCR. A new comprehensive analysis of such GPCR-targeting drugs indicates a trend that these types of drug target a larger number or receptors and reveals a rapid development for diseases such as Alzheimer disease, obesity, asthma and diabetes. The study was recently published in the prestigious journal Nature Reviews Drug Discovery.

From a drug perspective, GPCRs are the most utilised cell receptors in the body. They are uniquely accessible at the cell surface, and a third of all approved drugs achieve their therapeutic effect by interacting with cell surface GPCRs.

In a collaboration between the University of Copenhagen and Uppsala University, including Mathias Rask-Andersen at IGP, the researchers have mapped all GPCR-targeting drugs on the market and currently under development in clinical trials. A comparison of these revealed trends for how these types of drug target a larger number of receptors and take advantage of new scientific principles to fine-tune their effects. market with those undergoing clinical trials. The new drugs targeting these receptors are becoming more complex and have more specific target interactions, resulting in fewer side effects.

Focus on Alzheimer disease, obesity and diabetes

The analysis showed that several clinical trials are underway for Alzheimer disease and obesity, for which there have been very few effective drugs approved for the market. There were also many clinical trials related to asthma, diabetes and cancer. All drugs undergoing clinical trials will not become approved but the mapping offers a good impression of where the focus lies for the development of GPCR-targeting drugs.

The study was led by David Gloriam och Alexander Hauser at the University of Copenhagen. Collaborators at Uppsala University were Mathias Rask-Andersen at IGP, and Helgi Schiöth and Misty Atwood at the Department of Neuroscience.

More information:
Press release from University of Copenhagen, with link to the article
Mathias Rask-Andersen’s research in Åsa Johansson’s group