In spite of proteins’ enormous variety of sequence, structure and function, they are all made in the same way, by the cell’s ribosomes- nature’s universal protein production machinery. A ribosome scans the "mRNA", a copy of the gene that encodes the protein’s manufacturing instructions, coded as a sequence of amino-acids. It finds the beginning of the code and "translates" the instructions one by one, building the protein amino acid by amino acid and moving along the mRNA step by step.
Anima Biotech has developed a method to read the and record the ribosome’s processing activity. The technology is termed Protein Synthesis Monitoring (PSM). This scientific and technological breakthrough enables, for the first time, to actually see with light pulses and measure the process of protein synthesis, inside living cells, in real time. With PSM, the ribosomes broadcast light pulses as they assemble the target protein. These light pulses can be seen and measured with standard fluorescent microscopy equipment. They report in real time on the synthesis of the target protein, its production rate and sub-cellular localization. Molecules with a potential therapeutic impact can be identified through their effect on decreasing or increasing the light when they inhibit or accelerate the production of the target protein.
Based on this achievement, we developed a novel drug discovery platform that is applicable to a broad set of diseases. Anima's drug discovery platform uses PSM technology to observe and control this process. With this platform it becomes possible to discover molecules that inhibit, delay or accelerate the production of specific proteins.
Our high content screening drug discovery platform is highly interdisciplinary. It combines biology, chemistry, and bio-informatics with machine learning image analysis algorithms and big data analytics to automatically screen libraries of hundreds of thousands or millions of chemical compounds for molecules that control the translation of target proteins.
The system is scalable and can handle the vast amounts of data generated. For each 200,000 compounds screened, it generates around 20 million images that show where, when and how much protein is produced, in response to the tested molecules. Each image is further represented by over 60 individual parameters, resulting in 1.2 Billion data points. Our platform stores this big data in our cloud servers and uses machine learning and purpose-built image analysis algorithms to select molecules that are the best "hits" – molecules that show the biological activity of controlling the production of the protein inside living cells.
Hits are then analyzed in several iterations by multiple "secondary assays", PSM based tests that detect compounds that selectively control the synthesis of the target protein. Our first secondary screen looks at overall protein synthesis, eliminating compounds that are toxic or otherwise interfere with the synthesis of a large number of the cell's proteins or that shut down the translation machinery itself. Additional secondary screens run against a group of proteins of interest or specific proteins along a particular pathway. We use additional, unpublished extensions of PSM to verify the selectivity of hit compounds and to perform "target de-convolution", identifying their molecular targets and mechanism of action.
Hits are then further developed and optimized into "Leads", medicinally active molecules with drug-like properties that are then tested in animal models and taken through pre-clinical preparation, ready for clinical trials. In animal studies and clinical trials, our technology can be used to monitor protein synthesis, providing effective companion diagnostics that measures protein translation.