Our Research

The Centre of Membrane Proteins And Receptors (COMPARE) is a unique signature research centre of the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham, started in August 2016 with a joint £10m strategic investment. 

Co-directed by Professor Davide Calebiro (UoB) and Professor Jeanette Woolard (UoN), COMPARE brings together experts in receptor signalling, chemistry, pharmacology, advanced imaging and computer science with the overarching aim to elucidate the fundamental mechanisms of cell communication in physiology and disease to inform the development of innovative therapies for diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disorders or cancer.

In particular, research within COMPARE focuses on the three largest families of membrane receptors: G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), tyrosine kinase receptors (RTKs) and tyrosine kinase-linked (TKLRs) receptors. 

These receptors are heavily implicated in human disease and are the targets of more than 40% of all drugs on the market. 

The range of receptor targets investigated within the Centre (Table 1) demonstrates the span of diseases where our research make important contributions to, with a particular focus on chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disorders, metabolic disease and cancer. 

Currently available drugs have mainly been developed and tested using simple pharmacological or biochemical assays that do not fully capture how drugs work in the complexity of living cells and organisms. This is believed to be a major factor that contributes to the overall poor success rate and late failure of new drugs in clinical trials.

Recent breakthrough developments in advanced imaging and computer science, such as AI and machine learning, have revolutionised the way biomedical research is conducted, allowing the direct observation of complex dynamic processes as they occur within cells, tissues and whole organs with unprecedented detail.

Our researchers combine such innovative approaches with a thorough understanding of cell signalling and molecular pharmacology to identify and investigate new potential drug targets as well as to develop new diagnostic or prognostic markers.

Examples of investigated receptors and their associated diseases
 Receptor Class Disease
 Adenosine A2A and A2B  GPCR  Cancer immunomodulation, asthma
 Adenosine A1 and A3  GPCR Cardioprotection, immune disorders, and cancer 
 CXCR4 chemokine GPCR  Inflammation and cancer 
 β2-adrenoceptor GPCR   Asthma, COPD, and cancer metastasis
 GLP-1  GPCR  Diabetes
 μ opioid receptor  GPCR  Pain
 Prostaglandin EP4  GPCR  Pulmonary fibrosis
 Vasopressin V2 receptor   GPCR  Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus
 CLEC-2  TKLR  Thrombo-inflammation
 GPVI   TKLR  Arterial thrombosis
 T cell receptor  TKLR  Auto-immunity and inflammation
 CLEC-14  TKLR Cancer angiogenesis 
 EGFR  RTK  Cancer
 VEGFR2   RTK Cancer angiogenesis