Laboratory for Bioengineering Research and Innovation, funded by Northpond Labs, supports third Wyss Institute project on a path toward commercialization
By Benjamin Boettner
(BOSTON) – The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Northpond Labs, the research-and-development affiliate of Northpond Ventures, entered into an agreement today, whereby Northpond Labs will support the Institute’s “Lab-on-a-Molecule” project. This is the third Wyss project to which Northpond Labs has provided funding and in-kind support to ensure a pathway toward rapid technology commercialization.
In 2020, the Wyss Institute, Northpond Labs and other collaborating institutions launched the Laboratory for Bioengineering Research and Innovation at the Wyss Institute as part of a research collaboration. The collaboration, entered into agreement by Harvard’s Office of Technology Development, established a $12 million, five-year commitment from Northpond Labs to advance impactful research with a strong translational potential for commercialization, which now also includes the Lab-on-a-Molecule project.
“We are developing a next-generation platform for compound screening that uses self-assembled nanodevices to accelerate the discovery process. With support from Northpond Labs we hope to find novel activators for multiple different conditions, including therapeutics such as allosteric regulators and molecular glues,” said Wyss Associate Faculty member Wesley Wong, Ph.D., who is an Associate Professor of Biological Chemistry & Molecular Pharmacology and Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and an Investigator in Boston Children’s Hospital Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine.
The Lab-on-a-Molecule team, led by Wong, Clinton Hansen, Ph.D., and Mark Lipstein, is using DNA nanoswitch technology developed by the Wong lab. Harnessing this innovative technology, the researchers are developing an in vitro high-throughput platform which is able to identify compounds that not only bind target proteins with relevance to diseases but functionally affect their interactions with other proteins.
“While there are many tools for disrupting protein-protein interactions, there remains an unmet need to interrogate at scale, molecules that promote these interactions. Lab-on-a-Molecule is suited for this purpose, and we believe it can be applied across research and therapeutics development,” said Michael Rubin, M.D., Ph.D., CFA, Northpond’s Founder and CEO. “Working alongside our exceptional partners at the Wyss Institute, we will support the Lab-on-a-Molecule project’s research process and aim to accelerate commercialization, to positively impact patients’ and families’ lives.”
This project follows two earlier Wyss projects developed under The Laboratory for Bioengineering Research and Innovation. In 2022, the Institute, in partnership with Northpond Labs, spun out EnPlusOne Biosciences, an RNA solutions company which started as a controlled enzymatic RNA synthesis project funded by Northpond Labs in 2020. The second project, SomaCode, received funding in 2022. SomaCode aims to solve key challenges in targeting therapeutic cells to sites in the body affected by the disease and focuses on improving immune cell trafficking to solid tumors.
Because of its potential as a next-generation drug discovery technology, the Lab-on-a-Molecule project had already been selected by the Wyss Institute as one of its 2022 Validation Projects. As such, it will receive additional research and commercialization support from Northpond Labs and Boston Children’s Hospital.
“The Lab-on-a-Molecule project represents an entirely new approach to drug discovery. With this third major project emerging from the collaboration agreement between the Wyss Institute and Northpond Labs, and this time also including Boston Children’s Hospital, we are expanding our common interests into a new therapeutics area primed for innovation. Northpond Labs’ support will lend a strong hand to the team in helping to achieve their commercialization goals,” said Angelika Fretzen, Ph.D., M.B.A., the Wyss Institute’s Technology Translation Director & Chief Operating Officer.