Around half the proteins in the human body, including many that are crucial in health and disease, have some regions that do not fold neatly into fixed structures and thus cannot be accurately predicted from the underlying genetic sequences. Due to this lack of information, many drug development programmes fail because they aim rigidly designed drugs against these disordered targets.
Founded in 2018, London-based Peptone has combined atom-level physical protein analysis techniques to create an accurate representation of disordered proteins and protein regions, predicting the best way to target them with drugs.
The biotech startup has now raised $40 million in funding to speed up its protein drug discovery process. The funding will drive operations at its advanced facility in Bellinzona, Switzerland, to solve complex and problematic intrinsically disordered protein structures at scale. It will also support Peptone’s algorithmic engine, which runs on a supercomputer built in exclusive collaboration with NVIDIA in Keflavik, Iceland.
The round was led by F-Prime Capital and Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from Walden Catalyst Ventures and existing investors, including Hoxton Ventures and dRX Capital, the venture arm of Novartis.
The company will be able to initiate its own pipeline of unique targets in a range of diseases, including inflammation, cancer and diabetes, and begin experimenting with a completely novel class of medicines — structurally dynamic drugs based on disordered proteins from Bellinzona.
Kamil Tamiola, co-founder and CEO of Peptone said: “This new funding will allow us to further advance our platform and support the investigation of the disordered protein universe towards developing drugs of the future. Disordered proteins operate right at the point where physics becomes biology. By taking a rigorous and computer-driven experimental physics approach to analysing proteins, we can go beyond classical drug discovery approaches and observe protein behaviour that algorithms like AlphaFold cannot.”
“As part of our biotech practice, we’ve been studying the intersection of ML-based drug discovery for several years, and Peptone’s approach immediately stood out. Their computational physics-based Oppenheimer platform is uniquely suited to understand the structural dynamics of these difficult-to-drug disordered proteins, which allows them to develop therapies against these important disease-causing proteins,” added Andrew Hedin, partner at Bessemer Venture Partners.