Heptares Stars® Enable 'Reverse Pharmacology' Approach to Accelerate GPCR-Focused Drug Discovery

Mar 18, 2013, 07:30 ET from Heptares Therapeutics

WELWYN GARDEN CITY, England and BOSTON, Massachusetts, March 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Scientific paper published in Molecular Pharmacology

Heptares Therapeutics, the leading GPCR drug discovery and development company, announces the publication of a new paper describing how 'reverse pharmacology', enabled by its StaR® technology, can be applied to and accelerate GPCR-based drug discovery. The paper has been published in Molecular Pharmacology (ref. 1) and is available online by clicking here.    

The authors from Heptares describe for the first time how StaR technology enables the study of isolated GPCRs locked in conformations that correspond to agonist or antagonist pharmacology, and the elucidation of their respective 3D structures.

These StaRs and structures can be used to select and design compounds with specific pharmacologies, such as inverse agonist, partial agonist or full agonist, based on their ability to  bind differentially to the agonist and antagonist StaRs. For example a full agonist will preferentially bind to the agonist StaR.  

This approach is termed 'reverse pharmacology' since classically compounds are made and tested in cells and tissues, and only then can their preferred receptor conformation and activity be determined, a process subject to variation depending on the assay system and lacking precision.

"The ability to predict whether a compound will behave as an agonist, inverse agonist or antagonist in an in vitro, in silico or in vivo setting is a very powerful tool for drug discovery," said Fiona Marshall, Heptares' Chief Scientific Officer. "Combining this approach with our unique StaR technology is enabling Heptares to advance our pipeline of novel compounds targeting important GPCR targets, and those of our partners, towards the clinic."


  1. Bennett, K.A. et al. Pharmacology and Structure of Isolated Adenosine A2A Receptor Define Ligand Efficacy, 2013, Mol. Pharmacol. doi:10.1124/mol.112.084509

About Heptares Therapeutics

Heptares creates new medicines targeting clinically important, yet historically challenging, GPCRs (G protein-coupled receptors), a superfamily of drug receptors linked to a wide range of human diseases. Leveraging our advanced structure-based drug design technology platform, we have built an exciting discovery and development pipeline of novel drug candidates, which have the potential to transform the treatment of serious diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, migraine and diabetes. Our pharmaceutical partners include Shire, Cubist, Takeda, MorphoSys, AstraZeneca and MedImmune, and we are backed by MVM Life Science Partners, Clarus Ventures, Novartis Venture Fund and Takeda Ventures. To learn more about Heptares, please visit www.heptares.com.

SOURCE Heptares Therapeutics