A start-up named DenovAI, founded by a former EMBL staff scientist, is pioneering a revolutionary approach to expedite and reduce costs in antibody discovery.
Leveraging advanced machine learning and computational biophysics, the company aims to enhance the identification of antibodies crucial for the human immune system's defense against diseases. These antibodies play a pivotal role in attaching to and marking bacteria, viruses, fungi, or toxins for elimination from the body.
While therapeutic antibodies hold immense potential in treating various diseases, selecting promising candidates from billions of potential antibody sequences is arduous, expensive, and often ineffective.
Kashif Sadiq, the ex-EMBL scientist, established DenovAI Biotech to overcome this challenge. The company focuses on de novo protein design, a computational method for creating proteins from scratch, rather than relying on known structures.
DenovAI Biotech will develop an AI-powered biophysics solution to discover potential antibodies and small protein biologics. The platform will identify candidates and recommend their potential therapeutic applications.
Beyond pharmaceutical biologics, DenovAI envisions expanding into diagnostics, enzyme design, and biomaterial applications. The company plans to capitalize on recent advancements in protein structure prediction, artificial intelligence algorithms, computational molecular biophysics techniques, and the growing availability of experimentally determined antigen-antibody structures.
Kashif Sadiq's vision for DenovAI is to synergize AI and biophysics, unveiling the sequences and structures of antibodies that can robustly recognize and bind to any protein antigen. This innovative approach holds promise for transforming the landscape of antibody discovery and therapeutic applications.
This type of approach has not been taken before. We have seen major advances in the field of therapeutic antibodies, from increased antibody library sizes to function-oriented discovery, but the process of developing new drugs is still incredibly slow, vastly expensive, and inefficient.
Kashif Sadiq, Former Staff Scientist, European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Sadiq added, “With the support of AION Labs and its partners, we hope to develop a cutting-edge solution that will disrupt the whole field, cutting discovery timelines from months to days. This could dramatically broaden the scope of antibody therapy to many more diseases.”
DenovAI represents the second venture launched by AION Labs, an Israel-based entity specializing in generating startups via an innovative model driven by BioMed X. The distinctive approach involves pinpointing research and development challenges within specific industries and searching worldwide for scientist founders.
DenovAI enjoys support from prominent pharmaceutical entities such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Merck, and Teva.
The startup is further bolstered by collaborative efforts with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and additional financial support from the Israel Innovation Authority and the Israel Biotech Fund. This collective support ensures a solid foundation for DenovAI’s pursuit of groundbreaking solutions.
Sitting at the intersection between biophysics, biotechnology and AI, DenovAI has the potential to revolutionize innovation in drug discovery. That is our shared goal. We look forward to providing DenovAI with our strong resources and mentorship as we work together to develop a solution to overcome the pharmaceutical challenge of selecting drug candidates from antibody sequences.
Mati Gill, CEO, AION Labs
While collaborating in Jan Korbel’s research group at EMBL Heidelberg, Sadiq, and EMBL PhD Student Michael Jendrusch pioneered an AI-driven technology for protein design. Sadiq now aims to leverage this technology through DenovAI, a company licensed by EMBL’s commercial subsidiary, EMBL Enterprise Management Technology Transfer GmbH (EMBLEM).
Concurrently, Jendrusch will support the company’s initiatives while pursuing his PhD at EMBL Heidelberg.
“It is a fantastic opportunity for me to be involved in translating our theoretical research into real-life applications,” said Jendrusch.
It is very exciting that DenovAI is taking on the potential of AI-driven therapeutic discovery, building on research coming from my laboratory at EMBL. Computational biologists have long been harnessing technology to answer biological questions.
Jan Korbel, Group Leader, European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Korbel added, “With recent major advancements in artificial intelligence methods, there are now very exciting opportunities ahead for pharmaceutical development, and it will be wonderful to see DenovAI engage and develop in this sector.”