Secondcell Bio Says New Technology Enables Creation of Cells That Mimic Human Biology to Improve Drug Discovery

PRESS RELEASE — Originating from The Rockefeller University, Chromovert® Technology — from “chromosomes” and “convert” — is a new technology for the genetic engineer’s toolkit, according to Secondcell Bio.

Despite massive investments by the pharmaceutical industry, contemporary drug discovery has failed to deliver safe and effective drugs against the vast majority of drug targets identified to date. The inability to create laboratory cells that accurately mimic the biology of human disease for use as detectors during the discovery process is the fundamental handicap that subverts current efforts. Although billions of prospective drug compounds are tested against numerous disease genes, the lack of physiologically-relevant cell-based assays for reliable detection of promising lead compounds produces haphazard results.

Chromovert helps enable creation of cells that accurately mimic human biology for improved results.

“Little more than a random and highly inefficient enterprise, drug discovery today is ‘garbage in, garbage out’ enterprise. Chromovert increases reliability and efficiency of the resource-intensive process by allowing access to disease genes as they exist in the body,” says Dr. Kambiz Shekdar, inventor.

Currently, the industry average failure rate for drug discovery programs in pharmaceutical companies is reported to be approximately 98%. Although this includes failures at all stages of the process, the high failure rate points to a dire need for any improvements in the efficiency of the process. One factor contributing to the high failure rate is the lack of cells that accurately mimic the biology of human disease in the laboratory dish. Indisputably, drug discovery research would benefit from cells that express drug targets in a form that mimics human disease with high fidelity for use in cell-based assays. Consequently, there is a great need for rapid and effective establishment of cell-based assays for more rapid discovery of new and improved drugs. Chromovert Technology is designed to fit the need.

Compared to CRISPR which is especially well suited to deleting or disrupting target genes in treated cells, Chromovert enables the addition of one or more genes to cells. The technology was published in the Springer Nature journal Biotechnology Letters earlier this year .

Previously, Chromovert was validated by its use in the discovery and development of a novel clinical stage non-addictive pain blocker fast-tracked by the FDA and natural flavors discovery. This work was performed by Chromocell Corporation, a biotechnology company spun out of The Rockefeller University based upon the technology. Dr. Shekdar and the late Nobel-Laureate Gunter Blobel served as the scientific co-founders of Chromocell. Blobel also served as the Chairman of the company’s Scientific Advisory Board.

The late Dr. Blobel said, “You can really test in a much more comprehensive way than you could previously, and therefore Chromovert will probably be important to eliminate side effects or to predict side effects and we can get better, more highly targeted drugs.”

“Interestingly, it was our work with human taste receptors the made us realize Chromovert can precisely mimic human biology,” adds Shekdar. “Only data produced using Chromovert exactly mimicked human results.”

Secondcell Bio is a new company formed to market optimized materials to operate the technology in partnership with, Gene Link, Inc., a leading custom oligo synthesis house with a license to manufacturer optimized and highly purified probes for use in living cells.

“In connection with the first scientific publication of Chromovert Technology earlier this year, Kambiz and I are making the oligos and other research materials needed to operate the method broadly available to the research community via our e-commerce platform at Gene Link,” says Dr. Ali Javed, Gene Link Director of R&D.

Secondcell said they hope researchers may use Chromovert to usher a new era of Drugomics™ by implementing improved drug discovery for targets identified in the last 20 years of Genomics.

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