Looking for the drugs of the future, at the end of 2013, in the Applied Physics research group of the University of Santiago de Compostela, the AFFINImeter project was successfully launched. “In this group we had been developing thermodynamic models and mathematical algorithms for the analysis of complex interactions between biomolecules for many years,” explains Juan Sabín, co-founder of the company and Ph.D. in Physics from the USC.
These studies opened a very interesting window in the field of discoveries of new drugs and in systems of encapsulation of biomolecules. “We saw an opportunity in the market to create software where researchers could define thermodynamic models themselves and perform advanced analysis of their complex interactions,” says Sabín.
It is, therefore, a project in which the different branches of science work together to discover these medication and drugs of the future. “In the early stages of new drug research, tens of thousands of small molecules are screened in search of one that interacts with a target protein that plays a crucial role in the development of a disease,” explains the co-founder of AFFINImeter. They are expensive and undergo long processes that last, on average, a decade and cost hundreds of millions of euros.
In its client portfolio there are reference names in worldwide pharmaceutical research
To find the ‘perfect’ combination, therefore, there is a need for all kinds of techniques and experiments, and very powerful computer systems. “The screening is done through experimental measurements using biophysical techniques such as calorimetry, nuclear magnetic resonance, fluorescence, etc.”, says Juan Sabín.
The credit taken by AFFINImeter in less than five years is measured by its client portfolio, in which there are reference names in worldwide pharmaceutical research, such as Lilly, Roche or Novartis, and scientific institutions such as the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. And some studies carried out thanks to the software of this Galician company have been published in the peer-to-peer-review journal Nature. “Winning customers’ trust is an arduous and long-term task, but we have already begun to see the fruits, and we trust that this will help to spread our breaking software in the scientific community,” says Sabín.