Directed protein evolution is a powerful tool to identify and improve the biological function of protein molecules, and display technologies have been very successful in selecting individual molecules with the desired function from diverse, modified populations. We are developing new display technologies to efficiently conduct protein evolution as well as working with current RNA display techniques. Our focus is on the identification of novel high-affinity and highly specific target binding proteins (such as antibodies or antibody mimics) with therapeutically useful biological functions as well as other application of improving biological function through protein engineering. The specific target proteins are identified after extensive literature evaluation and discussion with thought leaders, and candidate target binding proteins will be produced and used in relevant animal models to evaluate efficacy.
Our drug discovery program aims to develop both small molecule and biopharmaceutical drug candidates. To achieve this mission, we have assembled a team of talented scientists with diverse expertise and background, including synthetic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, chemical biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and cell biology.
One area of interest is to develop mucolytic and anti-inflammatory agents for the treatment of respiratory diseases such as asthma and cystic fibrosis. Development candidates are discovered through our collaborations with biotech companies or other academic labs, as well as by internal research done at CCIB. Small molecule drug candidates are synthesized and screened by in vitro and in vivo cell-based assays. X-ray crystallography will be utilized to visualize target-drug interactions and design molecules for further development.
Another field of interest is to discover biopharmaceuticals for cancer treatment. Novel targeting strategies are designed to kill cancer cells with improved specificity, utilizing unique combinations of cancer cell surface markers. Protein fusions and small molecule-protein conjugates are designed, prepared, and then screened by cell-based assays.
To identify highly potent and specific protein/peptide antagonists against cancer markers, novel RNA display technologies are developed to enable efficient selection of target binders from large, randomized peptide libraries. Specific linkage between genotype and phenotype is established by covalently linking mRNA and its translation product using custom designed, chemically modified nucleotides and amino acid analogues.