Belgian firm Complix won a €1.9 million grant (about $2.5 million) from the Flanders government’s IWT (Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology in Flanders) to support development of its cell-penetrating Alphabodies™ (CPABs) against intracellular disease targets, including cancer targets. Alphabodies are small, single-chain alpha-helical proteins that are designed in silico, based on naturally occurring polypeptide structures. The firm claims its CPABs can be generated against a range of otherwise undruggable targets, and demonstrate the best features of both small molecule drugs and biologics, including high specificity and potency against large protein targets, combined with efficient cell penetration and stability.
“Although intracellular protein-protein interactions are known to be involved in a variety of important disease processes, such as cancer, autoimmunity, CNS and metabolic diseases, most of them have been found intractable by small chemicals or antibodies,” remarks Mark Vaeck, Ph.D., Complix CEO. “We believe that Complix is well-positioned to become a leading player in this next generation of so called ‘cross-over’ therapeutics.”
Structurally, Alphabodies comprise three associated alpha-helices connected by flexible linker loops to form a single chain protein. Complix claims this 3-D structure provides the Alphabody with some of its most desired features, including its extreme stability and unusual flexibility with respect to target binding. The firm’s current focus is on the development of Alphabody-based therapies for autoimmunity and infectious diseases.
Just last month Complix inked a collaboration agreement with Monsanto to evaluate and develop Alphabodies for applications in agriculture, including trait development.