Seattle Cyrus Biotech Is collaborating with Boston’s protein engineering Choose Biological Sciences This may bring up to 1.5 billion U.S. dollars in funding for the University of Washington’s derivative projects. The partnership will support the development of new drugs for immune-related diseases, Company announced this week.
The partnership includes an undisclosed advance payment, and if the transaction reaches certain drug discovery, development, and sales milestones, Cyrus is worth up to $1.5 billion.
The lead plan of the partnership will combine immunomodulators developed by Selecta with a protein called IL-2 designed by Cyrus.
Cyrus is enhancing IL-2 through its protein engineering software and laboratory bench testing.
Cyrus can use its software tools derived from the UW Protein Design Institute to design therapeutic proteins with higher characteristics, such as higher stability in the body.
The new partnership adds to several other multi-year deals that Cyrus is undertaking. These include ongoing cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Broad Institute of Harvard University to optimize CRISPR-based gene editing technology. Cyrus also sells its protein design software Cyrus Bench to 33 customers, including large pharmaceutical companies.
“Our goal is to be the premier partner for computational protein engineering of new drugs,” the CEO Lucas Niven Said in an email to GeekWire.
Under the new collaboration, Cyrus will design IL-2 to combine with Selecta’s immunomodulator ImmTOR.
It is known that IL-2 can enhance the function of immune cells called regulatory T cells in the body. It can calm the overactive immune system and alleviate the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. In preclinical experiments, the combination of IL-2 and ImmTOR will increase the number of these cells.
As part of the cooperation, two other projects are also in progress. These projects will also involve combining engineered proteins with ImmTOR.
“This collaboration is a perfect fit with our protein design expertise,” Nivon said statement“Together with our current partners, we have demonstrated our ability to redesign existing protein biologics or build them from scratch.”
Cyrus is just one of several derivative products of IPD using software-based drug discovery tools, and this area is getting more and more attention from investors.
Just this week, IPD-derived A-Alpha Bio raised US$20 million for its protein discovery platform. In July, the vaccine startup Icosavax went public in an IPO and raised more than US$180 million.
IPD also recently released a powerful tool to predict protein folding, called RoseTTAfold, which is comparable to Alphafold2, another tool built by Alphabet’s DeepMind. Both of these tools shocked the life sciences community, who have long been looking for a fast computational solution to predict protein folding.
Protein folding has been compared to solving a three-dimensional problem. Protein molecules with the right shape can eliminate rogue enzymes or adjust the function of immune cells.
Nivon said that the new developments will not have a direct impact on the new partnership, because most human drug targets already know the 3D structure. Nivon said that IPD and DeepMind tools will be included in future versions of the Cyrus workflow.
“Neither RoseTTA fold nor Alphafold2 will have a direct and significant impact on the drug discovery process in the next few quarters, but we believe that they will lead to the discovery of new biology and new targets and the introduction of drugs into clinical trials in the next few quarters. It has a huge impact. More than two years,” Nivon told GeekWire.
Nivon said the company is collaborating with large pharmaceutical companies to develop ways to use RoseTTAfold more effectively, although it is not yet ready to make an official announcement. (RoseTTA is also included in the video game fold with Rosetta@home People can contribute computer time there to solve protein structures. )
Nivon co-founded Cyrus in 2015 shortly after completing IPD post-doctoral research. He also co-founded Pedal Anywhere, a bicycle rental company. Cyrus received $8 million in venture capital in 2017 and currently has 24 employees. It also recruits researchers for its biochemistry laboratory.
Selecta’s ImmTOR platform is being tested in combination with other protein biologics and gene therapies developed by its partners. The company is conducting phase 3 trials for gout, and several drugs are in the late stage of preclinical development or are preparing to enter phase 1 trials.choose one Raised $70 million When it went public in 2016, it had approximately $150 million in cash on hand in May of this year. Investor introduction.
Carsten Brunn, CEO of Selecta, said: “We are fortunate to have the opportunity to optimize and advance our product portfolio through the design and development of innovative protein therapies. The statement“Ultimately, this collaboration has the potential to open new treatment options and improve the lives of patients with severe and debilitating diseases.”
ImmTOR combines nanoparticles with the immunomodulatory drug rapamycin. Adding a therapeutic protein to the particles can make the protein less likely to be attacked by the immune system. It also makes the protein less likely to be eliminated by the body or cause a patient response.
Both Selecta and Cyrus have overcome this key problem through protein engineering, that is, these proteins can be rejected by the body.
ImmTor reduces the body’s response to certain proteins. Cyrus can design a protein so that the body can accept it. “Together we solve the same problem in different and totally additive ways,” Nivon told GeekWire.