AIMMS researchers Maikel Wijtmans and Rob Leurs receive ENW-Klein-2 grant

Researchers will probe innovative ways to modulate a therapeutically highly relevant class of proteins with light

05/03/2021 | 9:39 AM

G protein‐coupled receptors (GPCRs) are a well‐known class of membrane-bound proteins and the target of many drugs. The applicant team aims to develop new challenging photoswitchable molecules to further unravel the complexity of GPCRs. This so-called photopharmacology approach has emerged as an exciting research area on the interface between chemistry and biology. In photopharmacology, the biological activity of photoresponsive small‐molecule protein ligands can be altered by illumination and as such it provides a direct way to modulate the activity of the associated protein with light. It provides precise spatiotemporal control of protein activity and is compatible with living systems. Photopharmacological approaches on GPCRs have only recently began to emerge and the research by Wijtmans and Leurs will help in further shaping GPCR photopharmacology by addressing key challenges in the field. Toward this end, a combination of organic synthesis, computational modeling, photochemistry and pharmacology will be used. On the longer run, the work can aid in conceiving a next generation of GPCR drugs.

About ENW-Klein-2: the NWO Board has awarded 16 applications in the Open Competition ENW-Klein scheme for curiosity-driven, innovative research. Funded topics are diverse and range from studying ice sheets and islands to investigating photons emitted from metals ions.