Flagship-Backed Prologue Launches with $50M to DELVE into Viral Proteome

Viruses_iStock, wildpixel

Pictured: Illustration showing several virus particles/iStock, wildpixel

Life sciences venture capital firm Flagship Pioneering launched its latest company on Tuesday. Prologue Medicines debuts with $50 million in Flagship dollars to mine the ever-expanding set of virus proteins for drug candidates.

Prologue will use the initial funding to advance its proprietary DELVE platform, a proteome-assisted drug discovery technology that makes use of high-throughput methods to search through the viral proteome for potentially therapeutic molecules.

Prologue then harnesses its advanced computational techniques to assess the ability of these viral proteins to “modulate human physiology for the treatment of disease,” according to the company's press release.

DELVE contains the “largest known database” of viral protein structures, which the biotech combines with known human proteins and predicted functionalities of previously uncharacterized viral proteins. The platform also allows Prologue to produce new therapeutic proteins with unique properties that can “expand the functional boundaries of human proteins,” according to the company.

Prologue’s novel approach to drug development takes advantage of the expansive viral proteome, which according to co-founder and CEO Lovisa Afzelius “dwarfs the human proteome by orders of magnitude.” DELVE enables the biotech to “reveal a trove of powerful new proteins that can be used as medicines across nearly any therapeutic area,” she said.

Aside from developing the DELVE platform, the $50-million launch support will help Prologue generate a pipeline of drug candidates, with an initial focus on cancer, metabolic and immunology indications.

Afzelius, who is also an organizational partner at Flagship, will lead Prologue alongside Theonie Anastassiadis and Hozefa Bandukwala, who will serve as the biotech’s founding president and founding CSO, respectively. Prologue’s other co-founder is Flagship CEO Noubar Afeyan, who will also be the chairman of the biotech’s Strategic Oversight Board.

Prologue’s debut on Tuesday follows the launch of Empress Therapeutics, another Flagship-backed biotech, in June 2023 to accelerate the discovery and development of small-molecule drugs. Like Prologue, Empress received $50 million in initial funds, which it used to develop its product platform Chemilogics, which takes the advancements in biologic medicines and applies them to small molecule drugs.

In particular, Empress will harness its platform to look at how genes affect the production of metabolites, with an initial focus on the chemical compounds produced by commensal bacteria.

A year earlier, in May 2022, Flagship launched ProFound Therapeutics with $75 million to look for potentially therapeutic proteins in the translatome—the full collection of sequences that are translated into proteins.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Reach out to him on LinkedIn or email him at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.

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