An engineering research team at UW-Madison has invented a device which could dramatically speed up drug development.


Faraz Choudhury is a post-doctoral researcher in the College of Engineering, and a co-founder of Immuto Scientific. The startup’s device automates complex protein analysis as part of the drug discovery process for protein therapeutics.


This $100 billion global industry is growing 10 percent every year, Choudhury says, as major pharmaceutical companies develop protein therapeutics to treat infections, cancer and other conditions.


Those drugs are made in part by proteins that are engineered for specific functions. And the physical structure of those proteins determines how they act in the body.


“Therefore, it is essential to analyze the structure of the protein at several stages in the drug development process,” Choudhury said last week at a research discussion event in Madison, put on by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.


The proteins are very complex, making it “extremely difficult” to get a high resolution picture of their structure. That problem is compounded, as pharmaceutical companies have to go through thousands of proteins before they find one that makes it to market.


It takes about 15 years and $1 billion to develop each of these therapeutics, Choudhury says, and current techniques give incomplete data. They’re also very complex and difficult to perform. Read the story here.