HEPTrepreneurs Episode 2




HEPTrepreneurs is the new online series of events organised by HEPTech in collaboration with GSI and CERN and dedicated to all members and partners of the network. The series focusses of High Energy Physics Entrepreneurship and covers various themes. The inspirational and interactive meetings are made for all those interested in entrepreneurship, but also for young people who want to know more about alternatives careers to research and for technology transfer officers looking for people to inspire. The meetings will include a presentation, a Q&A session and a networking event (as well if held online).


HEPTrepreneurs Episode 2

Title: From Quarks to Drugs: a cross-disciplinary journey in technology transfer.

Speaker: Pietro Faccioli, INFN


Computer simulations are playing an increasingly important role in several cross-disciplinary fields of Life Science. In particular, they can provide unique insight into dynamics that drives the function of biological macromolecules and identify the physico-chemical origin of pathological structural changes, such as protein misfolding.  Unfortunately, in practice, the applicability of traditional (Molecular Dynamics) approaches has been limited, because these structural changes are in general extremely rare events. 

By exploiting mathematical methods originally conceived in theoretical high energy physics, we have developed cross-disciplinary approaches to overcome this rare-event problem, enabling for the first time to reconstruct the entire folding process of biologically relevant proteins (consisting of hundreds of amino-acids) with an atomic level of resolution. 

Based on this technological advancement, an entirely new paradigm in rational drug discovery named Pharmacological Protein Inactivation by Folding Intermediate Targeting (PPI-FIT)  was  recently conceived. This scheme is based on the rationale of blocking the protein folding process,  rather than inhibiting the biological function of mature proteins. 

As a proof of concept, by using the PPI-FIT paradigm we have discovered molecules that can selectively and dose-dependently modulate the cellular expression of the human prion protein, that is involved in severe neurodegenerative diseases and is considered undruggable with conventional methods. This innovation led to the founding of Sybilla Biotech, a fast-growing startup company that has already discovered different potential drug candidates and established partnerships with major pharma industries. In addition, the PPI-FIT protocol has potential applications in Space Economy, with an important experiment in a forthcoming space mission under planning.

More information: Sybilla Biotech 

Register to the Zoom meeting: here