An EIC Path­fin­der Project


One Assay for the Future of GPCR Drug Discovery

Hundreds of dif­fe­rent types of G protein–coupled recep­tors (GPCRs) play diverse roles in the human body are cen­tral to our health. Phar­maceu­ti­cal drugs tar­ge­ting a few of these recep­tors have been used since anti­quity, and advance­ments over the last deca­des have brought many new the­ra­peu­tics against new GPCR targets.

Still, each new appro­ved GPCR drug repres­ents a huge invest­ment in time and resour­ces. The vast majo­rity of drug can­di­da­tes that are iden­ti­fied using state-of-the-art tech­no­lo­gies in the lab fail to deli­ver a the­ra­peu­tic effect for pati­ents in the cli­nic. Why?

One pro­blem is that cur­rent approa­ches to iden­tify poten­tial drug can­di­da­tes (see below) fail to repli­cate the actual situa­tion in patient’s cells.


The Chall­enge

Recent rese­arch reve­als that GPCRs do not func­tion as simple on/off swit­ches but ins­tead can adopt mul­ti­ple con­for­ma­ti­ons lea­ding to com­plex tex­tures of down­stream effects. Adding to this com­ple­xity, GPCR signal­ling is uni­quely tuned depen­ding on the cell type, body sys­tem, and uni­que gene­tic background.

Our con­sor­tium of SMEs and aca­de­mic labs has taken on the chall­enge. We aim to enable pre-cli­ni­cal sci­en­tists to cut through the com­ple­xity and con­fi­dently deter­mine how likely a drug can­di­date will sti­mu­late a the­ra­peu­tic response in the right part of the body while avo­i­ding unwan­ted side effects.

How can we make sense of this com­ple­xity and ther­eby make bet­ter medicines?

Con­ven­tio­nal Drug Discovery

Com­bi­na­tio­rial Com­ple­xity of Expe­ri­men­tal Assays and Conditions

The Inno­va­tion

The UniS­ens tech­no­logy is a sin­gle-assay plat­form desi­gned from the ground-up to sup­port the next gene­ra­tion of drug dis­co­very and will enable detec­tion and func­tional clas­si­fi­ca­tion of drug can­di­da­tes with supe­rior con­fi­dence com­pared to today’s approaches.

Its uni­que and uncon­ven­tio­nal design sup­ports stream­li­ned drug dis­co­very from the test tube to the native dise­ase-rele­vant cell, as well as the capa­city to harness arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence (AI) in the design of bet­ter drugs.

Future Drug Discovery

Sin­gle Holi­stic Unis­ens Assay (Uni­ver­sal GPCR Acti­vity Sensor)

Pro­ject Facts

Pro­ject Start: 1 Novem­ber 2024
Dura­tion: 48 months

2,965,384.75 EUR from the EU + 739,250 EUR from SERI

Seven part­ners in six countries
Ger­many, Czech Repu­blic, France, the Net­her­lands, Spain and Switzerland

See pro­ject in CORDIS

UniS­ens is fun­ded by the Euro­pean Inno­va­tion Coun­cil trough its Hori­zon Europe Path­fin­der Open pro­gramme (Great Agree­ment No. 101131014) and the Swiss State Secre­ta­riat for Edu­ca­tion, Rese­arch and Inno­va­tion (SERI).


The UniS­ens Con­sor­tium repres­ents an equal mix of SME’s and aca­de­mic labs, inclu­ding top GPCR and bio­tech­no­logy experts in Ger­many, Spain, the Czech Repu­blic, France, the Net­her­lands, and Switzerland.

SME Part­ners

Aca­de­mic Partners


Dr. Mar­tha Som­mer (Coor­di­na­tor)
Sem­mel­weis­str. 5
82152 Planegg

ISAR Bioscience GmbH – Coor­di­na­ting Institution
Phone: +49 89 356 475 400
Email: :

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