When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the world nervously waited months for treatment options to help those infected and vaccines to help prevent the illness and lessen impact of symptoms.
With a revolutionary new way of mapping protein structures, Immuto Scientific, the Wisconsin startup that aims to bring medications to market much more quickly – and at a lower cost – than traditional research systems, is precisely the type of organization poised to support these efforts.
Founded in 2018 by Faraz Choudhury and Daniel Benjamin, the team of scientists at Immuto recognized the limitations posed by the standard methods of epitope mapping and determined an alternative technology was needed for drug makers. PLIMB is a novel and groundbreaking technology for performing hydroxyl radical protein foot printing – a technique which utilizes mass spectrometry to provide structural data of a protein in its native solution and conformation. PLIMB utilizes plasma to generate microsecond (or one millionth of a second) bursts of hydroxyl radicals, which modify and label solvent-accessible regions of a protein. For reference, the average human eye blink takes 350,000 microseconds.
In August, the organization received an additional $2.3 in seed funding. This funding will allow Immuto to continue to be a major contributor to the drug discovery and development industry in the years to come. Immuto boasts a faster and quicker way of protein mapping, a key element of creating life-saving drugs in the pharmaceutical industry. That could mean drugs coming to market more quickly for cancer patients, individuals with heart disease, or ready for the next pandemic.
“The funding will allow us to scale up our operations, grow our team and acquire new cutting-edge equipment to serve our customers from the pharmaceutical industry,” said Faraz Choudhury, President and CEO of Immuto Scientific.
Traditional methods for protein mapping can take the better part of a year, meaning that medications might not be available to patients for up to a decade. With Immuto, however, that mapping can happen in as little as two to three weeks. The Immuto advantage can make drug discovery and development more efficient, reducing the amount of time it takes to get critical medications to market.
Its technology was first developed with an initial $1.4 million used cooperatively between the electrical engineering and biochemistry departments at UW-Madison. The most recent round of funding came from a range of sources, including Wisconsin Investment Partners, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Tundra Angels, BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation Inc., Golden Angels Investors, Milwaukee Venture Partners, and Great Oaks Venture Capital.
With its additional $2.3 million, Immuto Scientific plans to lay the foundations that will allow for even more research capabilities. Currently located at University Research Park in Madison, the four-employee company intends to double its staff and move into a 2,000-square-foot space near the Dane County Regional Airport within the coming year.
The company’s hope is to see additional lives improved, saved, and restored through the quick response that can come from faster drug development.