Macromoltek Awarded Highly Competitive National Science Foundation Phase II SBIR Grant
Research team to develop automated tools to help biotech companies develop better therapeutics
Sept. 12, 2016
Macromoltek (www.macromoltek.com), an early stage biotech software company located in Austin, Texas, has been awarded a $750,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue development of a molecular modeling suite focused on helping biotech companies get antibody therapeutics to market more quickly. The NSF SBIR program is a highly competitive program which seeks to transform early-stage scientific discovery into societal and economic benefit by catalyzing private sector commercialization of technological innovations. After successfully completing Phase I late last year, Macromoltek demonstrated the feasibility of its antibody humanization software in using computers to design new antibody molecules which function similar to those produced biologically. Macromoltek designs software for analyzing and designing antibody molecules that are in the preclinical stage for diseases, such as cancer, autoimmune disease and drug-resistant infections, allowing biotech researchers to get antibody therapeutics to patients more quickly and with fewer side effects. In the last few decades, the number of biologic drugs has increased significantly. Although small-molecule drugs are easier to administer to patients and are often less expensive, oncology monoclonal antibodies have higher FDA approval rates, making them an attractive form of cancer therapy. Antibodies are used by the immune system to identity and neutralize anything that cause disease such as bacteria and viruses. Despite the successes, current antibody therapeutics can still be imperfect. Furthermore, the path to discovery is marred with hundreds to thousands of failed cases, at an extreme cost to both the drug company and ultimately the patient. Digital modeling of antibodies allows researchers to evaluate and edit their work in hopes that it may one day be deployed in the body of a sick person to destroy a specific pathogen. Macromoltek’s solution is to reduce the cost and time of discovery by providing more cost effective tools that take advantage of computational algorithms. These tools will help test for problems that may arise during commercialization, which will have a tremendous impact on the development of therapeutics. “The ultimate goal for Macromoltek is to develop a tool that is superior to anything else that exists. This tool will allow for scientists working on research and development of a new antibody therapeutic to run a simulation very quickly to give them an idea of whether or not to perform an experiment,” said Monica Berrondo, PhD, co-founder and CEO, Macromoltek. “Working with Dr. Berrondo and Macromoltek has been an excellent experience,” said Dr. Curt Hewitt from Signature Science. “Their team is quick, responsive and, most critically, their protein modeling capabilities have provided us with a novel and reliable alternative to costly and occasionally challenging wet-lab experiments. Macromoltek’s capabilities have exceeded our expectations working; with them has allowed us to focus on the bigger-picture scientific problems at hand with the confidence that the modeling and technical assumptions we’re operating under are solid.” “We are extremely pleased to be recognized with this highly competitive award from the NSF and are grateful for the continued support towards our mission of helping companies use software to make better medications” said Dr. Berrondo. “This SBIR grant plays a vital role in expanding our capabilities”. About Macromoltek Macromoltek helps biotech and pharmaceutical companies reduce the cost and time to market of new drugs by moving experiments to the cloud. We are focused on reducing the time, money and effort spent learning and using computational tools for drug development, especially in the area of protein molecular modeling. We offer an online workspace for antibody analysis and antibody modeling where users can store their data securely and access it at any time, from anywhere. Through our workspaces, users access state-of-the-art tools to manipulate their data and increase their understanding of the structures, leading to faster and cheaper biologics drugs. www.macromoltek.com About the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Program At the National Science Foundation (NSF), Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) is an approximately $180-million program that catalyzes the commercialization of high-risk technological innovations via R&D grants to small businesses and startups. Through SBIR/STTR, NSF seeks to transform scientific discovery into societal and economic benefit. NSF is an independent, $7-billion federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.