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2022-05-27| Funding

Flagship-Backed ProFound Launches With $75 Million to Discover Human Proteins

by Joy Lin
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Flagship Pioneering, a biotech-focused venture capital firm, has launched ProFound Therapeutics with $75 million to discover human proteins. 

Founded at Flagship Labs in 2020, ProFound’s technology platform, the ProFoundry Platform, has to date identified “tens of thousands of previously undiscovered proteins that represent a vastly expanded number of therapeutic targets”, according to the company. 

With $75 million at hand, ProFound will continue to expand its platform, discover new targets, and build up an R&D pipeline. 

Related article: Learning From the COVID-19 Pandemic With Moderna CEO, Stéphane Bancel

 

Revealing the Translatome

 

Around 20 years ago, the Human Genome Project came to the consensus that there were only 20,000 genes that code for proteins. 

Flagship Pioneering Founder and CEO Noubar Afeyan thinks that is not the case. “We asked ourselves, ‘what if we are overly constrained by these rules, and the proteome is actually much larger than previously understood?’” he said.

According to Afeyan, who is also Co-Founder and Chairman of ProFound, by focusing on proteins in the process of translation, ProFound found tens of thousands of undiscovered human proteins that could “provide countless new intervention points across diseases”.

Unraveling the translatome, the total number of sequences translated into proteins, is at the heart of ProFound’s research. The company has developed The ProFoundry Atlas, a database to store and classify the novel proteins discovered and their function and roles in connection to health and disease. 

To acquire translatome information, techniques such as ribosome profiling, polysome profiling, full-length translating mRNA profiling (RNC-seq), and translating ribosome affinity purification (TRAP-seq) are used. Besides identifying new proteins, the translatome analysis could give a better estimation of the expression levels of some genes compared to the transcriptome.

The therapeutic potential of these discoveries could include new targets for genetic diseases, circulating factors, and immune system modulators, among others.

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