The Seattle-based firm has received two grants totaling $2.3 million from the CARE Fund to fuel the discovery of new transcription factor inhibitors for rhabdomyosarcoma and neuroblastoma, two childhood cancers.
Talus Bio was also awarded a $2 million SBIR fast-track grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to utilize its proprietary Multiplexed Assays for the Rational Modulation Of Transcription Factors (MARMOT) platform to fuel their deep learning AI model and accelerate the development of transcription factor drugs.
The company’s MARMOT platform measures genome regulatory proteins directly in live, non-engineered cells, enabling unprecedented levels of speed, precision, and resolution to disrupt transcription factors to stop disease.
Transcription factors are proteins that control every gene in a person’s genome by binding to DNA and flipping the on/off switches that govern gene expression. When they go awry, they often drive cancer and other disease processes like diabetes, inflammatory diseases, and neurological conditions.
Alex Federation, CEO and co-founder at Talus Bio, said: “At Talus Bio we believe ‘nothing is undruggable.’ As we lead the charge advancing transcription factor therapeutics, we’re seeing the promise of our vision become reality.”
“This funding will enable us to accelerate and optimize new molecules to address diseases that are driven by regulatory protein dysfunction. We’re using this momentum to accelerate and optimize drug discovery for diseases including these two childhood cancers, while simultaneously interrogating other promising targets for development in-house or through out-licensing with pharma partners.”
Lindsay Pino, chief technology and co-founder at Talus Bio, said: “Our unique team fuses three critical disciplines: biochemistry, functional proteomics, and machine learning. This allows us to measure transcription factors in their native cellular environment, where these proteins fold and function differently than when they are removed from the cell.”
“This new funding lets us study a compound’s effect on the specific gene activity driving these diseases, as well as unexpected interactions with off-target DNA-bound proteins that could lead to potential side effects during drug development.”
Talus Bio’s pipeline also includes the first inhibitor blocking a previously undruggable transcription factor that drives chordoma. Chordoma is a spinal cord cancer that is resistant to chemotherapy.