This Company Believes Physics, Not Chemistry, Is the Best Way To Develop Successful Protein Therapeutics

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The exciting global protein therapeutics market is expected to reach a value of approximately $233 billion by 2027. One Massachusetts-based biotechnology company is using a physics rather than chemistry approach to make its mark and lay its claim to a portion of this rapidly growing sector.

Not only does such an unconventional approach set the company apart from others competing in this very lucrative and important area, but it helps create and manufacture high-quality protein therapeutics at lower costs and higher quality,  according to the engineers and scientists at Pressure BioSciences Inc. (PBI) PBIO. PBI’s patented technology makes use of the company’s unique and enabling BaroFold platform, which uses safe high pressure for the disaggregation and controlled refolding of proteins to their native structures at sustainable yields, something that is difficult, highly expensive, and time-consuming to effect using standard chemistry approaches.

“To put it simply, the BaroFold process uses physics where traditional processes use chemistry, which often requires arduous procedures and difficult, time-consuming cleanups,” said Dr. Vera Gross, the company’s director of applications development. “With the BaroFold platform,  aggressive and toxic chemicals in the protein manufacturing process are replaced in whole, or in part, with high hydrostatic pressure. We believe this modification will result in a safer working environment, reduced manufacturing costs, and higher quality products. Most importantly, we believe the BaroFold process will enable some future drug candidates to actually get to market, that would not be able to get to market through any other process.Outside of the laboratory, this may have a significant real-world impact.”

Proteins have become the biological molecule of choice in therapeutic drug development because of their proven efficacy, minimal side effects, and high degree of specificity, PBI says. Major biopharmaceutical companies like Pfizer Inc. PFE and Bristol Myers Squibb BMY are actively developing protein therapeutics.

Starting Small for a Bigger Future?

PBI's BaroFold Services business has grown from just 1 customer in 2019 to 6 in 2021, with clients ranging from well-financed startups to multibillion-dollar global biopharmaceutical companies. 

While such customers may end up commercializing a drug that might otherwise not have made it to market, as well as enjoying lower manufacturing costs and improvements in quality, PBI will benefit from service fees, increased sales and leases, and license fees. “For a commercially successful protein therapeutic, the licensing stream is expected to be extremely lucrative,” said Mr. John Hollister, the company’s director of sales and marketing.

The company has also entered into partnership agreements with biopharma companies to allow them to use its smaller-scale BaroFold platform equipment.

Because it would be too costly for many companies to test all of their protein therapeutics through the primary BaroFold service, PBI has begun to lease its smaller-scale BaroShear equipment to such companies so they can themselves evaluate which of their candidate molecules may have the most potential to be blockbuster drugs in the future.

Once they decide on a candidate molecule, the biopharmaceutical company would then send selected drug candidates to PBI for the complete BaroFold analysis.

This program is also in its infancy but there has been a lease signed with what PBI calls a “multibillion-dollar international biotechnology company” and discussions are ongoing with an ever-increasing number of other players.

“Having now proven the concept, we believe this program will add greatly to the number of protein drug manufacturers utilizing our BaroFold services in 2022 and beyond,” stated Mr. Hollister.  “And of course as the number of companies utilizing our BaroFold services increases so does our monthly revenue, as well as the chance that one of our clients will one day bring their BaroFold-dependent drug to market, which could then result in tremendous revenue going forward, and for many years to come.” 

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