Viruses engage receptors on a host cell to initiate infection. Soluble versions of the receptors act as decoys that bind and block receptor-binding sites on the virus. However, human receptors often bind viruses weakly and in most cases also interact with endogenous factors in the human body as part of their normal physiology. These competitive off-target interactions adversely impact safety and efficacy. There is therefore an affinity and specificity problem that must be solved before soluble receptors can achieve their therapeutic potential. Orthogonal Biologics uses deep mutagenesis to resolve these challenges, engineering receptors that are orthogonal to normal human biology and with affinities that rival monoclonal antibodies. At this time, the company has lead biologic drug candidates for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for COVID-19) and human cytomegalovirus (the leading non-genetic cause of birth defects), as well as ongoing interests in zoonotic pathogens with pandemic potential and herpesviruses.
IRIA Pharma is an Illinois- based preclinical stage startup dedicated to developing targeted therapeutics and diagnostic solutions to antibody-untargetable disease. IRIA is translating its proprietary cell labeling and targeting technology, Active Tissue Targeting via Anchored ClicK Chemistry (ATTACK), into cancer treatment as its primary focus to develop first-in-class small molecule- based cancer labeling and targeted therapeutics for ovarian cancer. Treatment of platinum-resistant ovarian cancer remains an unmet medical need due to lack of novel targeted drugs and immunotherapies. IRIA’s proprietary ATTACK technology will provide an effective treatment option to those patients with significantly improved efficacy and minimal side effects.