New Software Helping Biogen, Novo Nordisk Increase Stability of Biopharmaceuticals

By Zachary Brennan

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Novo nordisk Growth hormone

New Software Helping Biogen, Novo Nordisk Increase Drugs' Stability
Both Biogen and Novo Nordisk have licensed a new software program to increase the stability of their protein-based biopharmaceuticals.

The software, known as "Disulfide by Design,”​ aims to help companies engineer disulfide bonds to increase stability, which, “in general, means longer bioactivity under a greater range of cellular conditions, and potentially greater shelf-life​,” Alan Dombkowski, PhD, inventor of the software and professor of toxicology and pharmacology at Wayne State University, told 

More specifically, the web-based software looks to “identify potential disulfides by considering the geometric relationships in ‘native’ disulfides and extending them to the desired target protein​,” Dombkowski said. 

In other words, characteristics of disulfides found naturally are used in the prediction.  Using atomic coordinate data from native disulfides, I devised the algorithm to predict where we might insert a new one that would conform to the geometric constraints​,” he added.


As far as the types of uses for the software, which has been cited in more than 40 scientific publications since 2002, Dombkowski said he believes there’s a range of possibilities.

There is a great deal of interest in using antibodies as therapeutics in a wide range of diseases, including cancer. The stability of protein-based therapeutics, such as antibodies, is very important. Proteins are susceptible to degradation and proteolytic cleavage which clear them from the blood stream and reduces their half-life​,” he said.

He gave the example of the disulfide engineering approach by Novo Nordisk, which is creating “a more stable growth hormone, filed in a patent applicatio​n.” 
There are a number of ways to increase protein stability, “including the addition of salt bridges, random mutations that are then selected for increased stability (directed evolution), and other approaches,” ​Dombkowski said, noting that all “are still very challenging and require further development to meet the needs of industry​.”

Other companies have requested information about the software recently, Dombkowski added.

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