The global COVID-19 pandemic has unveiled a grave issue – the requirement to develop efficient drugs quickly. 2020 has been a tough year that has seen scientists heralded as heroes and the future of protein-based medicine has sat at the coalface of a pandemic.
Several startups are looking to increase the pharmaceutical industry’s chances of developing future medicines quicker than ever before.
World’s first protein engineering OS
At this point in time, UK-based biotech startup Peptone which uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and quantum computing to find solutions to make faster and effective drugs claims to have built — world’s first protein engineering operating system (OS).
This system works towards developing life-saving protein-based medicines to treat infections such as COVID-19 and more. The latest news comes in that Peptone has raised $2.5M (nearly £1.84M) funding to speed up medicine development.
Backed by Novartis
The seed round was led by Hoxton Ventures, drug company Novartis’s investment arm alongside Founders Factory and angel investors including Brent Hoberman.
With this investment, the company is looking forward to further developing its groundbreaking technology that will take on the high-value protein targets and reduce the risk of failure in early drug development stages.
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Dr Kamil Tamiola, CEO and founder of Peptone says, “Our biggest focus is further developing the platform and growing the team, and this is where a bulk of the investment money will be made. We are building our own supercomputing stack in Switzerland to evaluate failure scenarios for high-value protein targets and further reduce their development risk in early stages of drug development.”
The protein intelligence company has a team of seven people right now, which includes a mix of protein physicists, mathematicians and experimentalists.
Revealing further about 2021 plans, Tamiola adds, “This year is about refining our product and making it the best possible platform to help pharmaceutical companies with drug candidate derisking, optimisation and de-novo design. We are also seeking immediate patent protection of key aspects of our platform, as our technology delivered game-changing results in a complex clinical programme.”
Accelerating protein biotechnology research
Peptone is working to change the mindset of how big pharma companies approach developing and engineering life-saving proteins, which is a fundamental building block to modern medicine. The biotech company accelerates protein biotechnology research with its Protein Engineering Operating System (PeOS), which uses state-of-the-art AI-driven computational molecular physics.
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Hussein Kanji, Partner, Hoxton Ventures said: “We are backing Peptone because Kamil and Matt are mission-driven founders who’ve made tackling this extremely difficult problem their life’s work. They’ve made excellent progress to date in their early pharma collaborations, and we see in them the potential to build a category-defining AI-company for the drug development industry. We’re excited to join them on this journey and think we will see a lot of great news from them in the not too distant future.”
Peptone’s AI understands what will not work in order to support the faster and more affordable generation of new lab-based molecules, in a way that the Big Pharma industry has not seen before.
Henry Lane-Fox, Founders Factory’s Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer said, “Peptone is building further trust and credibility in science with their ethos of ‘fail, rationalise, design’ – encouraging Big Pharma to better leverage the knowledge born from the failures in drug creation, and transform them into clinical success. Their innovation comes from using supercomputing and AI to make this applicable time and time again – repeatedly assessing the risk of failure to find the right path.”
The company also collaborated with NVIDIA, the global leader in supercomputing technologies and AI-solutions. Its PeOS was developed to handle massively parallel molecular simulations that were orchestrated and supervised by reinforcement learning algorithms.
Peptone is further in talks with key pharmaceutical industry players about future partnerships with protein therapeutic assuring to treat the most debilitating disorders.