A startup is creating new therapies by ‘evolving’ antibodies that degrade specific proteins within cells
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Spotted: Antibodies are specialised proteins that keep us healthy by defending the body against threats such as bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. They occur naturally in the human body, but for years now researchers have been modifying them to create targeted therapies for specific diseases.
Directed evolution, meanwhile, is a process that mimics natural selection but uses human (or AI) interventions to nudge the process towards a specific, pre-determined goal. Now, US startup BioLoomics is using this process to create therapeutic antibodies for safer and more effective cancer treatments.
Leveraging machine learning, the company tweaks different parameters in human cell experiments to ‘evolve’ antibodies that hijack the biological machinery through which antibodies are moved around within cells. This allows the therapeutic antibodies to fight disease by targeting specific organelles – specialised ‘compartments’ within a cell – in diseased tissues.
The antibodies BioLoomics is currently focusing on are ‘protein degraders’ that break down proteins attached to the cell membrane – specifically Receptor Tyrosine Kinase (RTK) and GPI-anchored proteins.
The company’s approach, which builds on research conducted as part of the ‘Rapid Threat Assessment (RTA)’ project at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is making it possible to ‘drug the undruggable.’
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Written By: Matthew Hempstead