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The Proteomics Challenge

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

The fact that proteomic diversity is most likely several logs greater than genomic diversity is only one reason why moving from gene expression-based analyses to proteomics-based drug development presents a daunting challenge. The large issues go well beyond protein isolation and characterization: Genomics simply doesn't tell you how proteins function in vivo, and companies are just now beginning to amass and integrate the tools to correlate protein structure and function. In many ways, proteomics heralds the second coming of rational drug design, enabled now by high-throughput tools and the algorithms of computational biology. But whether structure-guided drug development will prove to be efficient or cost-effective remains to be seen.

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Downward Trends in Proteomics Deal Making

For more than a year, VCs have backed away from the proteomics tools group--drug companies hadn't signed the expected number and value of deals with them, and it was deal revenues that were, according to most business plans, going to support these start-ups. That pharma and biotech companies have a bigger appetite for products than for platform technology has become a truism. Licensors increasingly are finding that they must offer partners more than a discovery technology platform-either by validating targets and building value before out-licensing, or at least having the biological capability in-house to be a true collaborator.

Downward Trends in Proteomics Deal Making

For more than a year, VCs have backed away from the proteomics tools group--drug companies hadn't signed the expected number and value of deals with them, and it was deal revenues that were, according to most business plans, going to support these start-ups. That pharma and biotech companies have a bigger appetite for products than for platform technology has become a truism. Licensors increasingly are finding that they must offer partners more than a discovery technology platform-either by validating targets and building value before out-licensing, or at least having the biological capability in-house to be a true collaborator.

MelTec GMBH

MelTec believes it improves on the state-of-the-art in proteomics with a technology that it terms "topological proteomics." In addition to establishing conventional protein expression levels and binary interaction patterns directly in cells, MelTec offers technology that can look at the proteins within an intact cell to pinpoint their location.

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