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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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A-Alpha Bio raises $2.8M for drug discovery

A-Alpha Bio team
The A-Alpha Bio team includes scientist Emily Engelhart, principal scientist David Colby, co-founder and CEO David Younger, co-founder and chief technology officer Randolph Lopez and engineering associate Charles Lin. (A-Alpha Bio Photo)

A Seattle startup that took root at the University of Washington has closed a $2.8 million seed round for a drug discovery platform that can sort through millions of protein interactions at once.

“We expect that we can go considerably further than that,” said David Younger, the co-founder and CEO of A-Alpha Bio.

A-Alpha Bio’s genetically engineered protein analysis technology, known as AlphaSeq, has the potential to speed up the process of evaluating drug candidates. That’s what attracted interest from investors including OS Fund, which led the seed round, plus AME Cloud Ventures, Boom Capital, Madrona Venture Group, Sahsen Ventures, Washington Research Foundation and a number of angel investors.

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