Inventors: Dr. Jessica Iegre, Josephine Gaynord, Dr. Hannah Sore & Professor David Spring, Chemistry & Pep2Smart
Mentor: Dr. Julian White
Peptides are a growing class of drugs, with properties in between small molecules (eg paracetamol) and biologics (eg antibodies). Insulin is a widely-used example of an establised peptide-based treatment.
Advantages of peptides include their ability to interact with a different set of targets to other classes of drugs, low production costs and low in vivo immune responses. Disadvantages include them degrading quickly in vivo and generally not being able to enter into living cells where the majority of the drug targets are located.
Over the past decade, Dr. Iegre and her team have developed high-quality specialised reagents and methods that can modify peptides and overcome these disadvantages. In the short term they are investigating providing their existing set of reagents to research groups and the pharmaceutical industry, as well as providing consultancy services to advise on how best to functionalise peptides of interest. In the longer term they plan to develop their own libraries of cell-permeable peptides that they have successfully synthesised and tested, through collaboration with identified partners.
The question for the i-Team is what services relating to peptides would be the most interesting to researchers in academic and commercial environments, and what products Pep2Smart should develop to help more companies work in the peptide space.