The “Lab-on-a-Molecule” team at the Wyss Institute is using DNA nanoswitch technology to develop an in vitro, high-throughput, platform to identify compounds for drug discovery. The nanoswitch is a nanoscale tool that can identify molecular interactions with a change of shape of DNA (i.e., from linear to a loop.) This shape change can be harnessed to identify molecules that not only bind target proteins with relevance to diseases but functionally affect their interactions with other proteins.

This week, Northpond Labs (the research-and-development affiliate of Northpond Ventures) entered into an agreement to support Wyss’s Lab-on-a-Molecule project.

“We are developing a next-generation platform for compound screening that uses self-assembled nanodevices to accelerate the discovery process. With support from Northpond Labs we hope to find novel activators for multiple different conditions, including therapeutics such as allosteric regulators and molecular glues,” said Wesley Wong, PhD, Wyss associate faculty member and an associate professor of biological chemistry & molecular pharmacology and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

“While there are many tools for disrupting protein-protein interactions, there remains an unmet need to interrogate at scale, molecules that promote these interactions. Lab-on-a-Molecule is suited for this purpose, and we believe it can be applied across research and therapeutics development,” said Michael Rubin, MD, PhD, Northpond’s founder and CEO.

In 2020, the Wyss Institute, Northpond Labs, and other collaborating institutions launched the Laboratory for Bioengineering Research and Innovation at the Wyss Institute. The collaboration, entered into agreement by Harvard’s Office of Technology Development, established a $12 million, five-year commitment from Northpond Labs to advance impactful research with a strong translational potential for commercialization, which now also includes the Lab-on-a-Molecule project.

This project follows two earlier Wyss projects developed under the Laboratory for Bioengineering Research and Innovation. In 2022, the Institute, in partnership with Northpond Labs, spun out EnPlusOne Biosciences, an RNA solutions company. The second project, SomaCode, aims to solve key challenges in targeting therapeutic cells to sites in the body affected by the disease and focuses on improving immune cell trafficking to solid tumors.

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