AstraZeneca Taps Gatehouse Bio to Identify Potential Drug Targets

Xconomy Boston — 

After joining AstraZeneca’s Boston Bio Hub incubator last year, Gatehouse Bio is now teaming up with the pharma company to identify potential drug targets in respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Under the collaboration, expected to last multiple years, Gatehouse will use its sRNAlytics platform to identify small RNA (sRNA) signatures, which the company says help in diagnosing and subtyping diseases from human samples. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“The small RNA signatures point to disrupted biological pathways that can be backfit into the known mechanism of action for a drug or elucidate new druggable targets,” explains Neal Foster, Gatehouse Bio’s chief commercial officer.

“The small RNA signature would then be used throughout the R&D process as a companion diagnostic accelerating development in preclinical research, during clinical development, and then later in commercial use,” he tells Xconomy.

Gatehouse has to date identified more than 1.4 million small RNA features, which, when coupled with the company’s machine-learning algorithms, help identify sRNA-signatures.

“By analyzing over 17,000 patients, we have proven that the analytics pipeline can span species and disease type as well as show presence in tissue, cerebrospinal fluid, and blood,” adds Foster. “Whether new discovery or an existing drug, the platform is showing promise in being able to identify drug targets, assist in patient selection, measure disease activity, monitor pharmacodynamic response, and identify new indications for existing drugs.”

Foster hopes to apply the platform as broadly as possible and is actively looking for collaborations with drug developers and research organizations. The company currently has several undisclosed collaborations in the works, across neurology, oncology, and auto-immune disease.

“We have not yet scratched the surface of the platform technology and look forward to providing a positive impact on human health overall,” says Foster.

Gatehouse graduated from the IndieBio Accelerator in San Francisco before applying to AstraZeneca’s Boston Bio Hub incubator. After being accepted, Foster says AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) challenged the company to look into respiratory and cardiovascular disease.

Preliminary assessments of the company’s sRNAlytics platform, were promising—leading to the formation of the collaboration with AstraZeneca, Foster says. The work builds on Gatehouse’s initial work in neurology, for which it received an FDA Letter of Support earlier this year.

(Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash)