UCL News


Receptor concept in pharmacology is the focus of review

24 March 2006

The receptor concept, or pharmacology's big idea, is reviewed in the 'British Journal of Pharmacology'.

According to the review, "Chemical signalling is the main mechanism by which biological function is controlled at all levels, from the single cell to the whole organism. Chemical recognition is the function of receptors, which, in addition to recognizing endogenous chemical signals, are also the target of many important experimental and therapeutic drugs."

Professor Humphrey Rang [UCL Pharmacology] wrote, "Receptors, therefore, lie at the heart of pharmacology. This article describes the way in which the receptor concept originated early in the 20th century, and evolved through a highly innovative stage of quantitative theory based on chemical kinetics, to the point where receptors were first isolated and later cloned, until we now have a virtually complete catalogue of all the receptors present in the genome."

"Studies on signal transduction are revealing great complexity in the events linking ligand binding to the physiological or therapeutic response," considered the author.

"Though some simple quantitative rules of 'receptor theory' are still useful, the current emphasis is on unraveling the pathways that link receptors to responses, and it will be some time before we know enough about them to embark on the next phase of 'receptor theory'," Rang concluded.

'Drug Week', 31 March 2006