Tel Aviv-based AI-enabled computational protein engineering platform Scala Biodesign announced its launch today with $5.5 million in seed funding.
The round was led by TLV Partners, an Israeli venture capital firm that invests in early-stage startups.
WHAT IT DOES
Scala’s computational method utilizes AI, physics-based modeling and biological data analysis to engineer and improve proteins for developing new medicines, vaccines and antibodies, and to create proteins for foodtech and industrial enzymes.
“Proteins, the active components in all living organisms, are at the core of numerous products and industrial processes. Our vision is to help companies leverage the great potential of proteins to develop more effective therapeutics and vaccines, affordable food products and sustainable chemical manufacturing processes,” Ravit Netzer, cofounder and CEO of Scala, told MobiHealthNews in an email.
“Today, billions of dollars are spent yearly on engineering these complex molecules. We aim to position ourselves at the heart of the next revolution in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors and others by providing the tools for developing proteins into life-changing products at a fraction of the time and effort. Moreover, by reducing the burden of protein development, we hope to enable more companies to incorporate proteins into their products.”
Scala was founded by Netzer and Dr. Adi Goldenzweig, its chief technology officer. As PhD students at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel the pair researched and developed algorithms for redesigning natural proteins dubbed PROSS, which yielded variants with improvements in half-life, thermal stability and expression levels.
PROSS has since been used in various applications commercially, and the company is working with several pharmaceutical companies on protein engineering projects.
Another company using AI and machine learning to examine proteins to accelerate the search for new medicines is AlphaFold, a platform developed by DeepMind, a research organization and subsidiary of Google.