George Church’s Startup Bags $2M in Pursuit to Create ‘Designer’ Drugs
GRO Biosciences Inc., a company co-founded by Harvard Medical School’s Professor of Genetics, George M. Church, has secured $2.1 million in seed funding.
The company plans to produce potent and stable therapeutic proteins by reprogramming of bacterial genomes.
The proteins will have improved stability through the introduction of a naturally-occurring amino acid that, usually, is rarely incorporated into proteins. Incorporation of this amino acid will produce more stable bonds leading to therapeutic proteins with much longer half-lives, which in turn will lead to improvements in targeting and delivery of the proteins into cells and tissues.
“For decades, bacteria have been used as the workhorses of the biotech industry in the production of blockbuster therapeutics, and we believe that we can dramatically expand their utility by recoding their genomes,” Said Church in a statement. “GRO Biosciences’ technology addresses the fundamental limitations of producing proteins with non-standard amino acids, opening up the possibility of creating a new universe of designer proteins with enhanced therapeutic properties at commercial scale.”
The project will be financed by Digital Ventures, a New York health-focused fund, and by Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors.
“Protein therapeutics represent a $180 billion market, yet product stability, targeting and delivery into the cell still remain significant challenges to be addressed if we are to enhance the patient experience, achieve better compliance and improve health outcomes,” said Geoffrey W. Smith, founder and managing partner of Digitalis Ventures. “If GRO Biosciences can make a therapeutic protein product that is more stable and requires less frequent dosing, then that is a win for patients and the healthcare system.”