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  • Writer's pictureSarah Ruivivar

Scala Biodesign: Revolutionising Protein Engineering

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

In the world of biotech, there's a gold rush happening, with AI and other tools being used to discover new drugs and treatments.

Among the pioneers is Scala Biodesign, a company that's just secured £5.5 million in funding. Their focus? Making existing or promising drugs more practical by tweaking them one molecule at a time.

Born from research conducted at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Tel Aviv, Scala Biodesign is transforming the way we approach protein engineering. By combining the capabilities of protein structure prediction tools like AlphaFold and RoseTTAfold with clinical data and observations of naturally occurring proteins, Scala is speeding up one of the slowest aspects of therapeutic molecule engineering.

The problem with many potential drugs is that while they may perform a useful function, they're often unsuitable for mass manufacturing or distribution. They might break up at room temperature or react adversely to a body’s natural chemical environment. The solution? A more robust version of the drug, achieved by swapping out one small piece of the molecule.

Scala Biodesign's approach is all computational. They provide a small number of high-confidence sequences, one of which is sure to at least move things in the right direction. For example, one lab was working on a naturally occurring protein that works as a malaria vaccine. However, it was sensitive to temperature and likely wouldn’t survive transport or storage. Scala provided three outputs, the best one is now in clinical trials.

The company is currently collaborating with some unnamed pharmaceutical companies and labs, focusing on providing and proving their service. Their goal is to make protein engineering as easy as checking your email. So, keep an eye on Scala Biodesign - they're set to revolutionise the world of biotech.

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