Peptomyc is a company focused on developing a new generation of cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) targeting the Myc oncoprotein for cancer treatment. Although Myc plays a central role in cancer there is currently no Myc inhibitor in the market.
Peptomyc plays a major role in the development of a cancer treatment solution. The company has adopted a different strategy based on inhibiting the oncoprotein Myc, which is found deregulated in most human cancers.
Discover through the interview of Hugo Thabussot, PhD student and researcher, Anaquant’s collaboration with Peptomyc.
What does Peptomyc do?
” Founded in 2014 by two researchers: Dr Laura Soucek and Dr Marie-Eve Beaulieu, Peptomyc is a spin-off of a research centre.
The company was created following the development of a molecule that is now our flagship product: Omomyc.The molecule sequence was first published in 1998 by one of Peptomyc co-founders. Myc is tested in a clinical trial for 1 year and a half.”
What is Peptomyc’s goal? What are the challenges you face?
” Our goal is to develop small proteins with a therapeutic effect in oncology. The fight against cancer presents various challenges, especially in terms of patient safety when injecting proteins.
In addition to Omomyc, we also conduct research on the development of other therapeutic molecules.”
How does the MYC protein operate in the proliferation of cancer?
“The proto-oncogene Myc was described to control up to 30% of the human genome. It is crucial for the good development of a human being, and drives cell proliferation. The Myc activity is tightly repressed in most of an adult’s cells.
In many cancers, the Myc expression is however deregulated. It induces the cancer cell proliferation, causing the tumor growth. Through its various modes of action, our protein can prevent the MYC protein to bind DNA, thus preventing its proliferative effect.”
How does Anaquant participate in your daily research?
“When we get to the clinical trial stage, the regulatory agencies ask us to have a clear view of the industrial manufacture process of our product. Everything has to be controlled. Anaquant helps us to have a better understanding of our process.
We rely mainly on Anaquant because of their expertise in determining the concentration of bacterial and proteins. ”
Why do you need to quantify and identify Host Cell Proteins (HCP) ?
“Our molecule is produced by a recombinant process in Escherichia coli. This bacteria acts as a manufacturing plant for our molecule.
We wait for the bacteria to divide and when we have the right amount, we extract our protein. But at the end of the process, there are always traces of unwanted elements:
- bacterial proteins;
- bacterial envelope…
For health and safety reasons, it is essential for us to know the exact composition of our final material.
Anaquant thus helps us to estimate the traces and proportions of foreign proteins (ie. process-related impurities, such as Host Cell Proteins or HCP) in the finished product that will be injected into the patient.
There will always be traces of foreign products, the main thing for us is that their concentration remains under acceptable levels. ”
Can you explain why it is essential for Peptomyc to use Mass Spectrometry instead of ELISA?
“To perform the characterization of Host Cell Proteins, the techniques used are ELISA and Mass Spectrometry. MS is much more sensitive, this method makes it possible to detect Host Cell Proteins at lower levels of presence than with ELISA. Thanks to MS, we can better identify the content of our final compound, and detect a wider range of Host Cell Proteins.”
What do you like about working with ANAQUANT?
“What we most appreciate is the adaptability and flexibility of Anaquant’s teams. In research, the main plans and objectives have to move very quickly, according to the feedbacks from regulatory agencies. We frequently change the quantities of samples to be tested, for example.”
What is your job Hugo within Peptomyc?
“I am currently a PhD student, doing an industrial PhD.The main theme of my thesis is the optimization of our main compound, to make it an even more powerful molecule, with better effects on patient healing. To do this, I need to identify the “flaws” in our compound. Simply put, our molecule is a protein, which is itself an amino acid sequence. Amino acids are to protein what letters are to a word. By interchanging these amino acids, it is possible to modify the characteristics of the protein.”
We design promising sequences mainly by carrying out a series of experiments and drawing on the available scientific literature.
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