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Neoleukin emerges with a de novo approach to improving biologics

Why Neoleukin is making biologics from scratch rather than fine-tuning existing ones

With a platform to design proteins from scratch, Neoleukin is making a new class of biologics that resemble their endogenous protein counterparts in structure, but not in sequence. The strategy gives the company a clean slate to improve function and reduce toxicity without the constraints built in by nature.

A spinout of David Baker’s lab at University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design, the company debuted in January with a Nature paper describing a de novo IL-2 protein that resembled the endogenous cytokine in 3-D structure, but had a different amino acid sequence and better preclinical efficacy and toxicity in mouse models of melanoma or colon cancer.

Baker is director of University of Washington’s Institute for

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