Amgen and the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design (IPD), which is revolutionizing its field of science by creating custom-designed proteins from scratch to improve human health, announced a broad collaboration that will cover multiple projects with a goal of testing new technologies and creating protein-building approaches that can be broadly applied to the search for new medicines.
Under the terms of the agreement, Amgen has provided initial funding for three sponsored research projects that will seek to apply IPD’s de novo design technique to increase the versatility of traditional protein-based medicines. This will include optimizing Amgen’s repertoire of BiTE® (bispecific T cell engager) antibodies, with the goal of expanding the types of tumors that can be targeted with these molecules. IPD’s expertise could also help Amgen to generate antibodies against very challenging drug targets and to devise new ways to modulate the activity of the immune system. In the longer-term, the broad-based collaboration could help shape the discovery and development of protein-based therapies.
“We’re at a technology transition point from modifying what exists in nature, which has been the traditional approach to protein engineering, to using first principles to build proteins from scratch to have exactly the properties you want. We can now design proteins that have specific functions, and that is where our work starts tying into medicine, and why we are very excited to be working with Amgen,”
said David Baker, the Henrietta and Aubrey Davis Endowed Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Washington School of Medicine, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and the founder and director of IPD.
“We want to work with IPD in an open-ended way to try to solve some of the most intractable problems that we face in designing effective medicines,”
said Raymond Deshaies, Ph.D., senior vice president of Global Research at Amgen.
“This is a broad collaboration that will cover multiple projects, and we are hoping to build strong working relationships among scientists on both sides. The goal isn’t just to solve a few specific problems but to create approaches that can be applied very generally across a large suite of problems.”