There are small drug firms and there are small drug firms – if you know what I mean. Which category is Warp Drive Bio going to fall into?
If you’ve never heard of them – and that name is rather memorable – then don’t worry, they’re new. Its founders are big names on the industry/academic drug discovery border: Greg Verdine, Jim Wells, and George Church. Here’s the rundown:
Warp Drive Bio is driving the reemergence of natural products in the era of genomics to create breakthrough treatments that make an important difference in the lives of patients. Built upon the belief that nature is the world’s most powerful medicinal chemist, Warp Drive Bio is deploying a battery of state-of-the-art technologies to access powerful drugs that are now hidden within microbes. Key to the Warp Drive Bio approach is the company’s proprietary “genomic search engine” and customized search queries that enable hidden natural products to be revealed on the basis of their distinctive genomic signature.
Interestingly, they launched with a deal with Sanofi already in place. I’ve been hearing about cryptic natural products for a while, and while I haven’t seen anything that’s knocked me over, it’s not prima facie a crazy idea. But it is going to be a tricky one to get to work, I’d think. After all, if these natural products were so active and useful, might they not have a bit higher profile, genomically and metabolically? I’m willing to be convinced otherwise by some data; perhaps we’ll see some as the Sanofi collaboration goes on. Anyone with more knowledge in this area, please add it in the comments – maybe we can all learn something.
One other question: with Verdine founding another high-profile company, does this say something about how his last one, Aileron, is doing in the “stapled peptide” business? Or not?