Vilya emerges to target disease biology

August 29, 2022 - 2 minutes
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VILYA, Inc. (Vilya), a biotech company aiming to create a new class of medicines to precisely target disease biology, launched today. 

Vilya is co-founded by scientists from the Institute of Protein Design (IPD) led by David Baker, and ARCH Venture Partners.

The company’s platform, powered by advanced machine learning, taps into uncharted chemical space to design de novo molecular structures that range in size between small molecules and antibodies. With drug-like properties, they have the ability to move through biological membranes and to disrupt protein-protein interactions while being selective for their protein target. 

These novel artificial molecules with customized biologic-like properties can be leveraged for previously difficult-to-drug therapeutic targets in a broad set of indications.

“Over the last few decades, drug developers have struggled to find natural molecules for most drug targets,” Baker said. 

“Vilya’s ability to precisely design membrane permeable molecules with high structural accuracy opens the door to a new class of medicines that combine the advantages of traditional small molecule drugs and larger protein-based therapeutics.”

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Computing and biology

In a paper published in Cell titled “Accurate de novo design of membrane-traversing macrocycles” scientists at IPD describe one element of the groundbreaking research behind Vilya’s foundational technology, which uses computational methods to design membrane-permeable and orally bioavailable peptides with high structural accuracy.

“The Institute of Protein Design is at the frontier of synthetic protein science, pushing the boundaries of computing and biology,” said Robert Nelsen, Vilya co-founder and managing director of ARCH Venture Partners. 

“ARCH is thrilled to join forces with David to create a completely new class of medicines, one never before found in nature. It’s incredibly exciting to see real potential for this platform.”

Vilya launched with $50 million in committed series A financing led by ARCH Venture Partners and a team of scientific team members and advisors that span data science, synthetic chemistry, drug development and company building. 

“Vilya’s approach is driven by breakthrough advances in multidisciplinary science,” said Steven Gillis, Vilya executive chair, co-founder and managing director of ARCH Venture Partners. 

“Our ability to create and screen a new class of target-directed, structured molecules in silico, could transform drug discovery and development, potentially rendering high throughput screening obsolete.”

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