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2 Million of yeast to triple available drug treatments

Researchers are to employ the humble yeast cell to greatly increase perhaps even triple - the number of drug treatments for common diseases such as allergies, asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes, schizophrenia, heart disease, osteoporosis and cancer.

Professor John Davey of the Department of Biological Sciences at The University of Warwick, in partnership with Oxford-based Biotech company Oxagen and Coventry-based biotech company Septegen, has been awarded a 1.96 million grant by the Government's DTI LINK Applied Genomics Programme. The grant will further develop unique technology invented by Professor Davey that can quickly and easily test current and future drugs against a set of targets recently discovered within the human body.

These drug targets, called G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), are responsible for transmitting much of the communication that takes place between cells in complex organisms. Defects in these proteins lead to many diseases. It is not surprising therefore that GPCRs are the targets for drugs in most major pharmaceutical areas. About 60% of all commercially available drugs (including 30 of the top 100 drugs) act on GPCRs and these generate over 30 billion in annual sales.

The publication of the human genome sequence means that we now have detailed information for several hundred new GPCRs (three times as many as we previously had accurate information on) most of which are likely to be important drug targets. Knowing that these new targets exist is one thing creating a simple way of finding out how we can use them in drug treatments is another. However, Professor Davey has developed a new technique which enables researchers to screen collections of prospective and current drugs against all these newly found human GPCRs.

Professor Davey's new "SepteCell" technology allows individual human GPCRs to be introduced into yeast cells to produce a simple yet highly effective system for the mass screening of dru
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Contact: Professor John Davey
j.davey@warwick.ac.uk
44-247-652-4204
University of Warwick
5-Feb-2003


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