Beyond the Nose: Olfactory receptors as hidden champions for drug discovery?

Webinar Summary:

Olfactory receptors (ORs) that bind odorous ligands are the largest family of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). In the human olfactory epithelium, approximately 400 members are expressed and are integral for our sense of smell.

But ORs are not exclusively expressed in the olfactory sensory neurons, they are also present outside of the olfactory system in all other human tissues tested to date, including but not limited to kidney, testis, lung, intestine, skin, heart, and immune cells like macrophages.

Moreover, very recent research has linked olfactory receptor dysfunction to various diseases and disorders, such as insomnia, metabolic diseases and arteriosclerosis.

This webinar is intended to advance our understanding of olfactory receptors and their applications beyond the nose. We will showcase the use of cell-based assays to delve into the molecular mechanisms underlying olfactory receptors. These assays offer important insights into how these receptors function and their potential for therapeutic interventions.

By gaining a better understanding of olfactory receptors better and their therapeutic potential, we can explore new avenues for treating olfaction-related conditions. This knowledge is valuable not just for fragrance and flavor applications but also increasingly for addressing health issues. Moreover, it would be also more accurate to name this GPCR family “chemosensory receptors” rather than just OR which under-evaluates their important role beyond the nose.


GPCR; olfaction; olfactory receptor; ectopic expression; chemosensory receptor; de-orphanization; metabolic diseases; skin diseases; atherosclerosis; inflammasome.


  • Stefan Lohmer, CEO, Axxam

  • Marcel Winnig, PhD, Business Unit Head of IMAX Discovery, Axxam

Stefan Lohmer is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Axxam since 2001. Prior to founding Axxam, he was the Director of Bayer’s Research Centre in Milan (Italy) and the Head of Genomics worldwide for Bayer AG. In this function Stefan was responsible for generating and managing Bayer’s external genomic alliance with Millennium Pharmaceuticals (Cambridge, USA). He joined Bayer at the corporate research center located at Wuppertal (Germany) in 1992. Stefan holds a degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the Albertus Magnus University in Cologne (Germany) and completed his PhD at the Max-Planck-Institute for Plant Breeding in Cologne. He is an inventor on more than 20 patents and has authored more than 20 peer-reviewed publications. Stefan serves on the Board of Directors for Rewind Therapeutics, Libra Therapeutics, and Golgi Neurosciences as well being an Observer on the Board of Acousia Therapeutics.

Stefan is passionate about transformative science and creating companies. “Never follow the path, always set the trail!”

Marcel Winnig is the Business Unit Head of IMAX Discovery at Axxam GmbH. Prior to that he held the role of Principal Investigator in the Discovery Biology Group at Axxam SpA, where he was responsible for all proprietary and service programs related to IMAX Discovery. Before joining Axxam in 2007, he was a Ph.D. student at the German Institute of Human Nutrition investigating the structure-function relations of the sweet taste receptor. Marcel has co-authored several original peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. He is co-inventor of different patents involving bitter taste receptors, olfactory receptors and new classes of savoury compounds.

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