Understanding the nuances of degradation, including if it truly could be done in a way that could eventually lead to new therapies, represented the first wave of innovation in previous years, Vasudevan says.
As part of this wave, Vasudevan and his group began conducting initial experiments in the lab. Violeta Marin, Ph.D., senior scientist, discovery platform technologies, recalls going to Vasudevan’s office along with her colleagues in the early days and brainstorming around potential approaches on the whiteboard.
A chemical biologist by trade, she helped establish a path to leverage chemical matter and bring the theory to life, deriving a playbook for protein degradation.
Today, this area of science is being explored across the industry. At AbbVie, what was a small group of scientists working around them has since expanded to a robust, strategic team that spans discovery, development sciences, clinical and corporate strategy, with core members across therapeutic and functional areas.
This second wave of innovation is around how to selectively degrade proteins in certain tissues or organs, like proteins in immune cells only, Vasudevan says. Additionally, AbbVie is researching how to impact hard-to-treat disease areas, like neuroscience.
“The application of protein degradation to targets in neuroscience we care about requires degradomers to get into the brain,” Vasudevan says. “We’re focused on technologies and collaborations that allow us to better deliver to the brain.”