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Patent Issued for Synthetic Peptide Chain Techniques

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (A. Kotok)

20 June 2023. A new U.S. patent, licensed to a start-up biotechnology company, describes processes for linking together chains of synthetic peptides into therapeutic proteins. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued patent number 11,649,446 last month to four inventors at Yale University and elsewhere, including a founder of the company Pearl Bio in Cambridge, Mass. that acquired rights to the technology.

Pearl Bio is a two year-old enterprise discovering synthetic combinations of peptides, short chains of amino acids, for new therapies and bio-based materials. The company is commercializing research by biomedical engineering labs of its scientific founders Farren Isaacs at Yale University and Michael Jewett at Stanford University, as well as Yale physiology professor Jesse Rinehart and Harvard Medical School geneticist George Church. Pearl Bio says the new patent is the latest of 24 patents it licenses exclusively for its basic technology.

The Farren Isaacs lab at Yale studies genome engineering techniques, particularly for high-volume programming of genetic chemistries in single cells and across cell populations. The lab says its discoveries make possible large-scale assembly of genomes into hierarchies that express genetic modifications to achieve desired outcomes, even new organisms if needed. This capability includes engineered protein synthesis in the ribosome, where messenger RNA translates and sequences genetic codes into chains of amino acids to form peptides, then linking together peptides into longer multiple peptide chains and proteins.

Produce synthetic proteins in greater yields

The new patent, which lists Isaacs as the lead inventor and assigned to Yale University, describes processes for preparing multiple peptide chains from amino acids, particularly amino acids not normally found linked together in their natural states. The patent includes methods for producing synthetic proteins in greater yields than conventional processes, or where conventional techniques would not allow for those combinations of amino acids to produce adequate yields or purity, or even occur in some cases.

“By encoding diverse synthetic chemistries into proteins,” says Pearl Bio co-founder and chief operating officer Amy Cayne Schwartz in a company statement released through BusinessWire, “Pearl is able to tune half-life, target delivery to diseased cells, and attach cytotoxic payloads to tailor valuable therapeutic properties, overcoming key barriers preventing market approval.”

Pearl Bio says its synthetic proteins retain their natural protein activity, but still allow for tuning the protein chemistry to reach specific targets, maintain stability, and reduce toxicity. The company cites as examples delivery of cancer-killing proteins to tumors through the protective microenvironment, while also accessing novel therapeutic targets. Pearl Bio says it’s forming partnerships with drug makers to develop what the company calls the next generation of smart biologics. In addition, says the company, its process makes possible genetically altered organisms that can produce strings of basic components constructed into wholly new biologics and bio-based materials.

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