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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Compugen: An Industrial Revolution

Looking for stock market advice? Stop! This blog is not for you. I do not provide stock market advice. Moreover, I am biased (see caveats below) and blinded by my love of Compugen's science and mission.

What? You're not seeking stock market advice and still reading? Okay, let's look at today's press release concerning the discovery and experimental validation of CGEN-15001 for the treatment of autoimmune disorders, but first a little background information.

Our immune systems must differentiate between foreign pathogens and self-antigens – no simple task. Failure to recognize foreign pathogens results in infection and disease, whereas an inappropriate response to self-antigens can lead to autoimmune disease, e.g. multiple sclerosis.

T-cells, also known as T lymphocytes (the "T" stands for "thymus", the organ in which these cells mature), are white blood cells that adapt the body's immune response to specific pathogens. From the thymus, T-cells are sent to peripheral tissues or circulate in the blood or lymphatic system.

B7/CD28 protein family members can augment or antagonize T-cell receptor signaling and influence autoimmune attack. The B7/CD28 family of molecules is one of the most intensively studied receptor-ligand systems in the field of immunology.

So what is special about Compugen's announcement today?

Compugen's predictive discovery of the parent protein in a field that has been systematically picked over by pharma giants is in and of itself noteworthy. The subsequent predictive discovery of CGEN-15001, a novel soluble recombinant fusion protein corresponding to the extracellular region of the Compugen discovered parent protein, and the results of the in vivo testing conducted by Professor Stephen Miller of Northwestern University speak for themselves.

Equally important, however, is to place today's announcement within the context of previous announcements. The initial product candidates emanating from and intended to validate Compugen's discovery platforms do not seek to extend life expectancies by weeks or months and are not mere enhancements of existing medicines. Rather, we are seeing a growing list of new product candidates, tested by leading authorities, some of which hopefully will provide meaningful solutions for widely prevalent conditions for which medicines are lacking, e.g., pulmonary fibrosis, IBD, retinopathy, epithelial tumors and MS.

In addition, examine today's announcement together with earlier announcements, and you cannot help but notice the broad applicability of Compugen's science. Compugen's understanding of biological phenomena on the molecular level has implications extending far beyond any single disease or disease category.

How often can you enter into a conversation with a group of people and take enormous satisfaction in being able to acknowledge your own ignorance? This is what routinely happens to me when I visit Compugen, and I couldn’t be more pleased. If there is to be a new industrial revolution, i.e. a revolution in the pharma industry, involving a shift away from trial and error to predictive discovery, it will require a combination of creativity and brain power beyond my meager means, but which I am privileged to witness and admire at Compugen.

[As noted in prior blog entries, I am a Compugen shareholder, this blog entry is not a recommendation to buy or sell Compugen shares, and in mid-September 2009 I began work as a part-time external consultant to Compugen. The opinions expressed herein are mine and are based on publicly available information. This blog entry has not been authorized or approved by Compugen.]

6 comments:

  1. I am also a proud shareholder of Compugen. We are on the big player for the next decade !

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  2. I concur with your assessment of Compugen.... this is a truly remarkable company with a bright future!

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  3. If I understand it correctly, it is closer to fundamental science than to drugs. Right?
    I wonder, Jeffery, who are the people there? Are they, mostly, pure biologists? There is not much information on the company web site.

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  4. Marina,

    As you can well imagine, their work is premised upon computer modeling and algorithms. As such, they have, relative to their size, many mathematicians and computer scientists, who have learned biology. Conversely, their "pure biologists" have learned over the years to speak the language of the mathematicians.

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  5. Jeffrey: Nice post. I would be interested in knowing how hard it is for Compugen to synthesize a protein once the company concludes a protein might be a good candidate and how long the in vivo studies take to complete. Any thoughts? Ken

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  6. Thanks, Ken.

    It takes some three months to synthesize the protein.

    Re the initial in vivo studies undertaken by Compugen, it depends upon the model, but here we are also looking at a few months. Obviously, additional in vivo testing leading up to Phase I takes considerably longer.

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