Boulder Peptide Symposium Wrap-Up, From a Personal Perspective
I recently attended the Boulder Peptide Symposium in, you guessed it, Boulder, Colorado.
It was nice returning to the state where I attended elementary school, enjoying the beautiful scenery, and of course there was a lot of exciting peptide science to absorb. A few takeaways:
- The big news of the recent FDA approval of oral semaglutide by Novo Nordisk kicks down barriers further to getting peptide-based therapies delivered in more user-friendly ways, likely increasing patient compliance. I am eager to see how other companies pass this long-standing hurdle with their own peptide therapeutics.
- Diabetes continues to be hot area for peptide research, with GLP-1 analogs for type 2 diabetes and glucagon formulations tackling hypoglycemia. Glucagon is prone to aggregation and insoluble and we saw that Purdue University and Zealand Pharma are tackling these problems, each with their own unique strategies. With a type 1 diabetic sister, I have seen firsthand the dire need for a rapid and easy-to-use hypoglycemia aid.
- Rare diseases made a showing with Ra Pharma tackling Complement C5 disorders with peptide macrocycles. Continuing the macrocycle theme, Bicycle Therapeutics’ bicyclic peptides, or bicycles, have antibody-like binding, yet in a smaller package.
- The Lacripep™ peptide, derived from lacritin, aims to restore the basal tearing mechanism as an interesting fix for dry eyes.
- Possible solutions for improving efficacy and avoiding protease cleavage were presented, from inserting an occasional D-isomer, using all D-amino acids, to inserting unusual amino acids, and all were a recurring theme. Reflexion’s D-peptides and proteins go unnoticed by proteases, are non-immunogenic, and are used to target disease targets in vivo. Several other companies incorporate the other strategies.
- Treatments are getting individualized with Genocea’s personalized cancer vaccine and immunotherapies. It all hinges on teaching the immune system which cells to kill. Timing will be key here with the need for rapid, GMP peptide synthesis. Indi Molecular is developing protein catalyzed capture (PCC) agents designed against specific epitopes on a target protein.
- Lumicell had an interesting device and fluorescent peptide aimed to help surgeons identify and remove all cancer cells. My observation is that a market need exists for cost-effective dyes in bulk quantities.
- Sapience is going after formerly “undruggable targets” by disrupting protein-protein interactions at play in high-mortality cancers.
- Orbit Discovery uses unique peptide display technologies to enable screening of libraries against live cells.
- Antimicrobial peptides as replacements for antibiotics were represented, with AMP Discovery LLC and Matrisys working to “re-balance” the skin’s microbiome in dermatological conditions such as eczema and atopic dermatitis. Oryn Therapeutics offers their Orynotides, peptides based on theta defensins, as protection against inflammatory and infectious diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis.
- Artificial Intelligence made a showing in helping screen and generate peptide libraries, with Pepticom using it to aid structural design and MyTide Therapeutics’ ability to design and construct peptide libraries. Mathematics and AI seem to have a growing presence in drug design.
- Hybritides®, by Longevity Biotech, incorporate alpha and beta amino acids for longevity in treating disorders of neuroscience and diabetes, including Parkinson’s disease.
Biotech is rife with paradigm-breaking and investment money. It’s a trend I would like to see continue!
If you attended, what were your takeaways? We would love to hear from YOU! There were so many exciting developments to mention here, that I could not possibly cover everything in one post. Unable to attend? Peruse the symposium website here.
(Mentions do not imply endorsements)