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A-Alpha Bio wins grant to work on molecular glue

Emily Engelhart
Emily Engelhart, a research scientist at A-Alpha Bio, works at the company’s lab in the University of Washington’s Fluke Hall. (A-Alpha Bio Photo)

A-Alpha Bio, a Seattle venture that began at the University of Washington, has won a $620,472 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a system that identifies molecules capable of taking disease-causing proteins out of circulation.

The Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant, awarded on April 30, follows up on an earlier Phase I grant focusing on molecular glue. Such molecules are designed to “glue” a target protein onto another type of protein known as an E3 ubiquitin ligase. The ubiquitin molecules serve as chemical tags that basically tell the cell, “Get rid of the protein that I’m connected to.”

“It’s a way to get rid of what would otherwise be more or less ‘undruggable’ protein targets,” A-Alpha Bio CEO David Younger told GeekWire.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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