Heptares Therapeutics, announced one of its founders, Richard Henderson of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017.
He shares the prize with Jacques Dubochet of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland and Joachim Frank of Columbia University, New York, US, for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution.
Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is a technique for determining 3D information about protein structures at the molecular level.
Along with traditional methods for structure determination, such as x-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, cryo-EM can reveal the structure of complex molecular assemblies to near atomic level.
Detailed information, such as this, is expected to improve understanding of the structure and function of proteins under investigation and thereby advance the design of new drugs targeting specific proteins.
Heptares is applying the techniques of cryo-EM to study G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) protein complexes, the insights from which are helping to advance the discovery of potential new medicines.
Malcolm Weir, CEO and co-founder Heptares, said: “We are delighted that Richard has received this most prestigious of awards. It is very well deserved and justified recognition of his outstanding contribution to science as a true pioneer of structural biology.
“His work on membrane protein structure in particular provided the inspiration and scientific foundation for Heptares’ work on GPCR structure-based drug design, and we continue to benefit enormously from his contributions.”
Richard Henderson co-founded Heptares Therapeutics with Malcolm Weir, Fiona Marshall and Chris Tate in 2007, it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sosei Group Corporation.