'Stapled peptides' still the talk of the town

Nature Biotechnology files a report on a topic we covered back in August--Swiss drug maker Roche giving a Big Pharma stamp of approval, and $1.1 billion, to Cambridge, MA-based Aileron Therapeutics and its "stapled peptides."

The journal describes Aileron's unique technology that enables peptides to reach inside cells to deliver therapeutic agents without falling apart. They also quote Aileron CEO Joseph Yanchik as saying that Big Pharma has tried to come up with this technique, themselves. The payoff is potentially huge. It's really an entirely new class of drugs. Stapled peptides are produced by connecting, or "stapling," two amino acids by mimicking the structure found at the interface of many protein-protein interactions. The end result, a peptide that will bind to its target long enough to deliver its payload of therapeutics before breaking apart.

Nature Biotechnology points out that the technology can serve both as molecular probes for studying biological processes, such as protein-protein interactions, and as drug leads that target those same processes.

The article, however, points out that despite the large announced investment, Aileron will not see the entire $1.1 billion until it succeeds in five different drug targets. So, it's not one drug under scrutiny, but an entire platform. At the very least, Yanchik tells the magazine, the funding has brought more money into the wider field. "I'd be willing to place a bet with the announcement we've just made, we've got another few companies funded," he tells Nature Biotechnology.

- read the Nature Biotechnology report