With the resulting sequences, the scientists chemically synthesize trillions of identical copies of the designed molecules. The process, from conception to production, can be performed in weeks, or even days--much faster than traditional drug discovery techniques that rely on trial and error for screening potentially useful compounds.
In vivo experiments, funded by the NSF SBIR award, validated the approach, and Parabon filed a provisional patent for its methods and compounds on May 4, 2011. The final application was published in 2012.
The process is characteristic of rational drug design, an effort to craft pharmaceuticals based on knowledge of how certain molecular pieces will work together in a biological system. For example, some molecules are good at finding cancer cells, while others are good at latching on to cancer cells, while still others are capable of killing cells. Working together as part of a larger molecule, these pieces could prove effective as a cancer treatment.
While there are other methods to create multi-component compounds, they generally take more time, and, most important, the majority of them lack the precise control over size, charge and the relative placement of components enabled by the new technology. The recent TECP grant provided a supplement to Parabon to support further research that will help the novel technologies meet market demands.
TECP grants are a mechanism available to NSF Phase II SBIR/STTR grantees, helping improve their commercial success by enabling them to build partnerships with larger companies and investors. Those partners generally require new products to meet set specifications and standards, and TECP supplemental awards provide funding for the research required to meet those parameters. As with
|Contact: Joshua A. Chamot|
National Science Foundation