A project creating a new class of therapeutic proteins to modulate cell signalling has been accepted into the BioInnovation Institute (BII) Bio Studio programme.
The project is based on recent breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI) and protein design, and uses methods pioneered by David Baker’s laboratory at the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design.
BII is an international enterprise foundation with a non-profit objective of incubating and accelerating world-class life science research. Its Bio Studio program aims to foster the creation of new life science start-ups based on research from world-class scientists to benefit people and society.
The foundation will support the project with an in-kind grant of up to DKK 6.5M (over €800,000) per year for a project period of up to three years, as well as with business development expertise, intellectual property support, access to investor network and both wet lab and office infrastructure.
Commenting on the project, Markus Herrgård, Chief Technology Officer at BII, said: “We are very pleased to add this cutting-edge project to our Bio Studio portfolio. De novo protein design is an exciting area and one that fits perfectly with our strategy to accelerate the commercialisation of state-of-the-art technology.”
The project was conceived by Christoffer Norn and David Feldman during their tenure as postdoctoral scholars in David Baker’s lab at the Institute for Protein Design, which focuses on the design of macromolecular structures and functions.
The Bio Studio project will use protein design to create small therapeutic proteins, called minibinders, that modulate cell signalling by binding the integral membrane domains of key receptors (GPCRs, ion channels, and transporters).
Unlike current biologics based on natural proteins such as antibodies, therapeutic minibinders are designed from scratch to have optimal drug-like properties. While antibodies must be injected, minibinders can be formulated as oral therapies thanks to their exceptional stability.
Since its inception in 2018, BII has supported 70 start-ups and projects with €59 million. Recent company successes include Adcendo, Stipe Therapeutics, Twelve Bio, Octarine Bio, and Cirqle Biomedical.