An exciting partnership between computing and graphics giant Nvidia and AI startup Evozyne has announced that they have been able to produce novel versions of a human protein that has never been seen in nature — but with “enhanced function” and the same safety as native proteins. The researchers say that the AI breakthrough lays the groundwork for potential new therapies for rare disorders.

The collaborators say they developed the novel proteins by “listening to the language of life.”

Natural language processing, or NLP, is a cornerstone of AI programs. NLP is software that is designed to analyze language in any form, from handwritten notes to complex peer-reviewed papers. In healthcare, such NLP algorithms are being written that can analyze any kind of document and other datasets and identify biologically relevant text elements such as the names of genes, proteins, drugs, clinical manifestations of a particular disease, and anything else relevant to a given research team’s target.

Kimberly Powell, vice president of healthcare at Nvidia, says natural language learning techniques can also be applied to genomics, in particular proteins that are encoded by our genes.

“We’ve learned that these large language models can understand relationships just through studying amino acid sequence,” Powell said. “There is information about protein function when you can encode and represent and explore that data in these large language models.”

The results of the collaboration between Nvidia and Evozyne were announced during the recent J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. Powell discussed them during a separate briefing with journalists. Neither company develops new drugs, but their technologies are used by biotech and pharmaceutical companies working in drug discovery.

The two companies began working together in 2022, collaborating to develop a new deep-learning model that can learn the rules of protein function. Using those rules, they aimed to design new proteins with improved functions. The model was built on Nvidia’s technology for training and deploying large language models for biology.

When engineering therapeutic proteins, scientists aim to make changes that enhance the protein’s function without compromising its safety. In the research described by Nvidia, Evozyne was able to create a protein with 51 mutations. Despite all of those changes, that protein was still able to achieve a two-and-a-half times enhancement in functionality compared to the native human protein on which it was modeled.

In this case, the protein model was specifically designed to test novel therapeutics for a rare condition known as phenylketonuria (PKU), in which phenylalanine levels build up in the body and cause neurological impairment because individuals with the condition cannot process phenylalanine, an amino acid found in certain foods.

Right now, there are few drugs available to treat PKU, and those with the condition must be on strict diets avoiding foods that contain phenylalanine.

How BigRio Helps Facilitate Investment in AI Startups

Much like the collaboration between Nvidia and Evozyne, BigRio is partnering with startups to develop healthcare solutions with AI at the core of their solutions and our sister company Citadel Discovery was launched in 2021 with the purpose of giving a kind of “open access” to the data and technology that will drive the future of pharma research streamlining and lowering the costs of drug discovery and biological research.

We have launched an AI Studio specifically for US-based Healthcare startups with AI centricity. Our mission is to help AI startups scale and gear up to stay one step ahead of the pack and emerge as winners in their respective domains.

AI Startups face numerous challenges when it comes to demonstrating their value proposition, particularly when it comes to advanced AI solutions for pharma and healthcare. We have taken an award-winning and unique approach to incubating and facilitating startups that allow the R&D team and stakeholders to efficiently collaborate and craft the process to best suit actual ongoing needs, which leads to a faster, more accurate output.

We provide:
• Access to a top-level talent pool, including business executives, developers, data scientists, and data engineers.
• Assistance in the development and testing of the MVP, Prototypes, and POCs.
• Professional services for implementation and support of Pilot projects
• Sales and Marketing support and potential client introductions.
• Access to private capital sources.

BigRio excels in overcoming such initial hurdles, which present nearly insurmountable obstacles to a startup operation.

Rohit Mahajan is a Managing Partner with BigRio. He has a particular expertise in the development and design of innovative solutions for clients in Healthcare, Financial Services, Retail, Automotive, Manufacturing, and other industry segments.

BigRio is a technology consulting firm empowering data to drive innovation and advanced AI. We specialize in cutting-edge Big Data, Machine Learning, and Custom Software strategy, analysis, architecture, and implementation solutions. If you would like to benefit from our expertise in these areas or if you have further questions on the content of this article, please do not hesitate to contact us.