After the Human Genome Project finished, Scipher Medicine’s co-founders Dr. Joseph Loscalzo and Dr. Albert-Laszlo Barabasi realized although sequencing human DNA taught us about genetics and our likelihood for developing everything from our eye color to cancer, it did not explain specific diseases or how to treat them.
Instead, the two researchers started looking at RNA and proteins and how they interacted with each other. They discovered how proteins cause specific diseases and that a specific protein could appear in multiple diseases. As a result, they created a map of all the proteins to show how diseases are connected, and coined “network medicine”.
After 10 years of research and $10m invested, they made enough connections to grow the map to cover 89% of all our proteins. This has resulted in the ability to discover what drives a disease, and therefore, how to predict drug response and build therapies to treat them.
Our genes (DNA) are static, we are born with a combination of them from our parents. The genes explain what diseases we might be at risk of developing in our lifetime but are a poor predictor of if we will get that disease, especially complex diseases like autoimmune diseases which are not solely determined by our genes.
DNA carries the instructions for creating our proteins, but RNA is needed to translate these instructions from the DNA to tell our bodies which and how much of a protein should be produced. As most diseases are caused by proteins not being produced and controlled correctly in our cells, RNA and proteins are dynamic and show in real time the evolution of complex diseases in an individual.
While the ability to interpret RNA data has eluded scientists for decades, Drs. Loscalzo and Barabasi combined RNA data with their map of protein interactions to create a new platform, PrismIx, to understand the biology of diseases at the individual level.
With this platform, we are able to decipher the biology of each patient’s disease through an RNA sample and determine if a particular drug will work effectively or not. Therefore, we can predict if he or she will respond to this treatment through our PrismDx diagnostic tests.
We also collect this data anonymously from patients who will and will not respond to the particular drug to better understand the disease. This helps us identify common trends among the non-responders to find targets to develop new therapies (PrismRx) and help the patients who do not respond to drugs currently available on the market to reach our ultimate goal of getting the patients on the right drug from day one.