G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) represent the largest family of proteins expressed at the cell surface. GPCRs are involved in multiple physiological and pathological processes, and are targeted by 30-40% of currently prescribed drugs. Regardless of this fact, these drugs target only 10% of all GPCRs highlighting the great potential of this protein family for future drug design.
GPCR research is multi-disciplinary, dealing with numerous biological and pathological processes. Accordingly, GPCR researchers often work in different fields and research organizations. The primary aim of the GDR3545 was to gather the different players working in this field in France.
The GDR has the following 4 specific objectives:
Whereas “GPCR ligands and action mechanisms” are the primary focus of a limited number of academic groups in France, the majority of groups are interested in a specific physiological function involving one or several GPCRs. Although a regular exchange between these three fields appears mandatory this does not necessarily happen due to the large spectrum of different physiological processes and diseases involving GPCRs. Indeed GPCR researchers work in fields ranging from chemistry, to cell biology, physiology, immunology, infectious diseases, structural biology, molecular modeling, systems biology and pharmacology, illustrating the large diversity of teams interested in GPCRs.
The added value of the exchange between GPCR researchers in the GDR3545 is based on the assumption that all GPCRs share a similar topology and “work” in a similar manner despite the huge diversity of ligands and physiological processes involved. Researchers interested in GPCR pharmacology and action mechanisms will thus be sensitized to the importance of specific physiological processes and disease models. Researchers interested in a particular disease or physiological process will learn more about the current conceptual advances and general action mechanisms in the GPCR field and will have the opportunity to exchange with researchers working on completely different disease models that may however have a similar functional or molecular origin or defect.
The following 4 scientific themes have been identified:
Current representatives are mentioned in brackets.
The impact of industry is also important in order to increase the communication between the three fields. Industry is traditionally interested in the identification and synthesis of natural and synthetic ligands, in defining the pharmacological properties and in performing ligand screening. However, the slowing down of the drug discovery process and the rate of GPCR deorphanization indicate the need for new ideas and concepts to accelerate the drug development process. The input of academic research may be crucial in this respect.
Regular and mutual exchange between academia and industry appears “natural” in the GPCR field given the large number of biological processes/diseases involving GPCRs and the enormous potential of GPCRs for drug development. The GDR3545 aims to establish an open forum for discussion and exchange that will lead to sustained partnerships.
Industrial partners can chose between different types of partnerships or sponsorships depending on their interest and their activity (supplier of reagents, instrumentation, services, pharmaceutical industries, etc.). For the different types of partnerships a commitment over the entire duration of the GDR (4 years) is desirable.
Sponsors and Partners from outside France are also welcome. Currently, seven companies are located outside France (USA, UK, Belgium) clearly underlining the international/European spirit of the GDR3545.
Partnerships with non-profit associations interested in GPCRs are also welcome as exemplified by the partnership with the renowned International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR), which is representing the interests of pharmacologists around the world by promoting international cooperation and encouraging free exchange of scientists and ideas (www.iuphar.org/).
The 2012 annual meeting of the GDR3545 in Paris hosted a joint session on “GPCR-associated signalosomes“ with Canadian colleagues co-sponsored by the CFQCU.
You can click here to see the list of our sponsors/partners.
Major GPCrs centers in France: Paris, Strasbourg, Montpellier, Toulouse...
The diversity of research approaches applied to GPCRs translates into a large diversity of affiliation of research teams working in this field. Indeed, teams of the present GDR are affiliated to many different French research organizations (CNRS, INSERM, INRA, CEA, 13 Universities). Under these circumstances, coordination appears necessary for optimal usage of available sources. The GDR3545 will represent the GPCR field in France and provide advice in any possible relevant matter at the highest level (Ministries, ANR, ITMO, etc.).
Supporting young students and scientists in the GPCR field is one of the priorities of the GDR to encourage their involvement in the field. Different programs will be organized to highlight outstanding scientific contributions, to support diffusion of young scientist contributions and to participate in their training (congress participation, training in partner labs), which will be crucial for future carrier building.
Short talks of the annual meeting will be preferentially chosen from abstracts submitted by young scientists. Several prices will be awarded for outstanding posters at the annual meeting. Sponsoring of awards by industrial partners is welcome.
The GDR could support short-term stays of young scientists in a partner lab to foster technical transfer or to facilitate collaborative studies involving students or post-docs of two partner labs. Part of the GDR budget can be used to facilitate the participation of young scientists in international conferences on GPCRs.