A-Alpha Bio, a biotechnology startup that helps pharmaceutical companies characterize protein interactions for accelerated drug development, announced today that it has raised $2.8M from leading science-focused venture capital firms and angel investors. The round was led by OS Fund and also includes AME Cloud Ventures, Boom Capital, Madrona Venture Group, Sahsen Ventures, Washington Research Foundation, and leading biotech angel investors. Since 2017, A-Alpha Bio has been supported by CoMotion, the University of Washington’s collaborative innovation hub, the National Science Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
A-Alpha Bio has developed a genetically engineered platform technology, called AlphaSeq, for measuring interactions between proteins that can be used to discover and optimize life-saving drugs. AlphaSeq was invented and developed by A-Alpha Bio’s founders Drs. David Younger and Randolph Lopez, and Scientific Advisors, Drs. David Baker and Eric Klavins, at the University of Washington (UW). AlphaSeq enables the measurement of millions of interactions between proteins with high quantitative accuracy.
“While there are many methods available for screening large biomolecular libraries for a particular binding activity, there are few approaches for assessing in parallel the very large number of possible interactions between biomolecules in two large libraries,” said David Baker, who serves as Head of the Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington and Scientific Advisor to A-Alpha Bio. “A-Alpha Bio’s exciting technology now provides a way to not only quantitatively measure the interactions between all pairs of molecules in two libraries, but also the effect of small molecules and other perturbations on these interactions.”
Pharmaceutical companies are pursuing increasingly challenging targets, which often require binding to multiple proteins or specificity between closely related proteins. Drug development currently requires iterative screening against one target at a time. This approach is slow, costly, and often ineffective at producing successful therapeutics. AlphaSeq will allow drug developers and researchers to radically accelerate their screening against thousands of disease targets in a single experimental step.
“A-Alpha Bio's platform is plug-and-play for partners, facilitating read-outs on drug potency and effectiveness in a much shorter time-frame, solving an important challenge for pharma companies,” said Jeff Klunzinger, Co-Founder and General Partner of OS Fund. “We are confident David Younger, Randolph Lopez and the A-Alpha Bio team will be able to accelerate discovery of multi-target protein drugs, such as multi-target antibodies, and small-molecule protein interaction modulators.”
The seed financing announced today will support research operations to validate AlphaSeq with many high-impact disease targets, including those for oncology and infectious diseases, and allow A-Alpha Bio to begin drug discovery and optimization partnerships with pharmaceutical companies.
“We are thrilled to have the backing of synthetic biology experts, pharmaceutical industry veterans, and seasoned company builders who will add a tremendous amount of value,” said Dr. David Younger, Co-Founder and CEO of A-Alpha Bio. “We have assembled a powerful group of investors, led by OS Fund, who share our passion for disrupting the pharmaceutical industry with breakthrough innovations in synthetic biology.”
This funding comes following an announcement earlier this year that A-Alpha Bio was awarded a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant to support a feasibility study for the discovery and optimization of therapeutics to protect developing world infants from intestinal pathogens.