The platform combines synthetic biology and artificial intelligence to open the possibilities of protein design
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Spotted: The designer proteins market is projected to be worth $3.9 billion (around €3.81 billion) by 2024, up from $2.2 billion (around €2.1 billion) in 2019. However, current protein engineering takes place in a lab, through trial and error, with a typical success rate of less than one per cent. But startup Cradle has created software that allows organisations to test any potential protein sequences easily, saving a huge amount of time and money.
Essentially, Cradle’s platform ‘reverse engineers’ proteins, and then incorporates machine learning algorithms trained on real data to predict the folding pattern of each protein. Users can choose which type of structure they are looking to design, and the software then offers a list of possible sequences which could create the desired protein. The proteins can be used to produce a wide range of products such as milk and meat.
The design tools — which are assisted by AI — can predict a protein’s 3D structure, generate new sequences with improved thermostability, and optimise codons (units of genetic code) for better expression. The company claims that, in future, the software will also be able to optimise the stability and speed of proteins, among other things.
All designs created using Cradle are also private and secure, ensuring only those invited specifically by the user may gain access to the sequence data, and that the user maintains full ownership of their intellectual property.
The Dutch startup has recently raised €5.5 million in seed funding to further improve the platform, led by investors including Index Ventures and Kindred Capital.
Increasingly, scientists are looking at sustainable means of creating proteins which do not require animals. Springwise has spotted the use of AI to make proteins and preservatives, and plant cells which are used to manufacture dairy proteins.
Written By: Matilda Cox