Visterra discovers and develops novel drugs utilizing its proprietary platform based on the atomic interaction network analyses of proteins. Our technology platform enables a more in depth, three-dimensional structural understanding of proteins as ‘networks’ of amino acids. Understanding and quantifying the connectivity of these amino acids – or how networked an individual amino acid is relative to all others in a particular protein – provides unique insights into both protein structure and function. This technology enables (i) a novel approach to characterize proteins, (ii) the identification of unique target epitopes, or drug target sites, on a given protein and (iii) the design of novel drugs to target these epitopes and effectively combat disease.
We have established proof-of-concept for this technology platform with our lead product, VIS410, a fully human IgG1 antibody targeting influenza. Our network analyses platform enabled the identification of a highly networked cluster of amino acids, or target epitope, on the hemagglutinin (HA) protein. HA is present on the surface of the influenza virus, and is used by the virus to bind to and infect cells in the body. The identified target epitope is an ideal target for drug therapy: it is highly conserved and accessible across all influenza strains and critical to the structure and function of the influenza virus – meaning that the virus will be less likely to mutate and develop resistance to drug therapy. The same network analyses platform was then used to guide the design of a monoclonal antibody to bind to and neutralize this target epitope. Starting with the identification of an appropriate fully human IgG1 antibody scaffold, we completed a series of iterations between in silico network-guided design and laboratory experiments to identify an antibody that binds to and neutralizes all influenza virus strains. From more than 50 lead antibody candidates meeting our success criteria for HA binding and neutralization, we selected VIS410 to advance into full development. Preclinical data on VIS410 to date continues to confirm the product’s promise to rapidly eradicate any seasonal or pandemic influenza strains. It also provides important product validation of the broad potential of our technology platform to both identify unique targets and guide the design of novel drugs against them. Leveraging this success, we are building a proprietary pipeline of additional preventive and therapeutic drugs targeting infectious diseases.
Through a coalition of partners with a shared mission – including U.S. and non-U.S. governments, global foundations and pharmaceutical companies – we are committed to using our novel technology to provide safe and effective therapies to combat infectious and other major diseases around the world.