Orbit Discovery Ltd, a privately held biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering candidate peptide therapeutics, has been awarded a Smart grant by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. Totalling £472,000, the grant will facilitate the implementation of droplet-based microfluidics for cell-based functional screening and significantly expand the capabilities and throughput of Orbit’s peptide display platform. The project aims to advance the discovery of peptide therapeutic candidates including the most challenging of drug targets by improving overall process efficiency whilst reducing the risk and associated costs.
Smart is Innovate UK’s responsive grant funding programme harnessing focused eligibility criteria and scope to support SMEs and their partners to develop disruptive innovations with significant potential for rapid, economic return to the UK. The funds awarded to Orbit will further validate the microfluidic components of its peptide discovery platform, resulting in a next-generation microfluidic-based functional screen capable of interrogating millions of peptides in cell-based assays.
The high-throughput screening platform will directly address difficult-to-access drug targets in key areas of biological interest, with a focus on multi-membrane spanning proteins, such as G-protein-coupled receptors. Orbit’s proposed interfacing of cell-based functional screening models with peptide display technologies will deliver a significant impact on the cost and efficiency of peptide therapeutics discovery. The platform will rapidly identify molecules which generate a therapeutically-relevant functional response earlier in the drug discovery process. This will avoid polluting screening outputs with non-functional binders often observed with other platforms.
Anthony Pitt, Chief Technology Officer, Orbit Discovery, said: “This Innovate UK Smart Grant will help us further cement our technical leadership in functional screening. The microfluidic platform can elevate our current functional screening capabilities from tens of thousands to millions of peptides. This throughput will help us identify rare functional binders that are typically missed with more traditional screening platforms.”
Dr Neil Butt, Chief Executive Officer, Orbit Discovery, added: “This is an exciting opportunity for Orbit to increase its commitment to R&D and create additional high value service offerings to our customers. Our current functional screening platform is market leading, and the conclusion of this work will be transformational in expanding the throughput and library size that can be screened within the platform.”