Congratulations to Zymeworks, #12 in 2011's Most Innovative Companies in B.C.
There are dozens of biotech companies in B.C. working feverishly to create the next groundbreaking new medicine, but it takes years to find out whether they’ll ever be a success. Zymeworks, however, is contributing to the field in a different way: creating a tool to help design drugs quicker and more effectively.
Its ZymeCAD software is a virtual protein engineering platform, part of a growing field called computational biotechnology. As the name suggests, it’s similar to the CAD (computer-aided design) programs that drafters and engineers have used for years to create virtual 3D models of their projects before building them. But when your design is meant to work on a microscopic level inside the human body, where there’s some delicate chemistry and molecular physics to contend with, the algorithms needed to create a useful computer model are far more complex. Some good evidence that Zymeworks has cracked the code surfaced in 2009, when Xoma Ltd., a $100-million pharmaceutical company based in California, announced a partnership with Zymeworks to help optimize an undisclosed protein.
Digital simulations will probably never replace rigorous clinical trials, but by making the road there a bit easier there’s no telling what important discoveries these new tools might enable.