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3-Dimensional Pharma Lands $1 Million Grant to Crystallize Cell Receptors

NEW YORK, June 13 – 3-Dimensional Pharmaceuticals has been awarded a 2-year Phase II NIH grant for research to crystallize and determine high-resolution three-dimensional structures of G-protein coupled receptors, the company announced Thursday.

The Small Business Innovative Research Grant is for approximately $1 million, the company reported. It follows a three-year $2 million 1995 Advanced Technology Program Award from the US Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, and SBIR grants in 1999 and 2000. 

All the grants have supported Exton, Penn.-based 3-Dimensional’s research into GPCRs, the largest family of cell-surface receptors. The receptors play key roles in cellular signaling, control, and communication. 

Drugs targeting GPCRs generate more than $20 billion in annual sales across several therapeutic areas, according to 3-Dimensional. Researchers have been unable to obtain a three-dimensional X-ray of a GPCR showing a direct view of a drug binding site, said the company.

“Fewer than 100 GPCRs are targeted by currently available drugs,” David U’Prichard, 3-Dimensional CEO, said in a statement. “Genomic research has identified at least 600 previously unknown GPCRs that appear to have high potential as drug targets. Although we continue to view our GPCR research as an early-stage program, the opportunity for the company that succeeds in this area would be enormous.”

3-Dimensional will use the grant in efforts to achieve diffraction-quality crystals with the goal of complete three-dimensional structures of important GPCR drug targets, said Barry Springer, 3-Dimensional senior director of biochemistry and biophysics and the principal investigator on the grant. 

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