Emerald Bio to Conduct Microgravity Reseach on Therapeutic Targets

The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth's atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)
The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth’s atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

BEDFORD, Mass., Jan. 8, 2014 (Emerald Bio PR) – Emerald Bio, world class protein science researchers and drug discovery experts integrating structure-guided drug discovery and target knowledge to transform the treatment of disease, announced today a partnership with industry, academic and nonprofit organizations to explore the effects of microgravity on crystallization of two challenging therapeutic targets implicated in cancer and cardiovascular disease. The company is collaborating with the Broad Institute, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), NanoRacks and Protein BioSolutions.

Protein growth studies in microgravity, or space, allow life scientists to determine the structures of specific therapeutic targets, in turn enabling future drug discovery and insight into treating disease. Proteins grown in microgravity may produce larger, better-organized crystals. According to NASA, protein crystal growth experiments have flown on past space shuttle missions since 1985.

“The Broad Institute aspires to transform the process of drug discovery and the treatment of human disease by developing and applying novel drug discovery technologies to vital medical problems,” said Brian Hubbard, director of the Therapeutics Projects Group within the Broad‘s Center for the Science of Therapeutics. “This unique collaboration with Emerald Bio, as well as with CASIS, NanoRacks and Protein BioSolutions, will provide us with the needed protein structures and drug discovery insights to enable our teams to evaluate the three-dimensional crystal structures of two important therapeutic targets.”

During the study, Emerald Bio and its partners will test their hypothesis that microgravity will provide an improved environment for crystal growth of Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9), a key gene that drives elevated levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and myeloid leukemia cell differentiation protein 1 (MCL1), one of the most commonly altered genes in cancer.

“As Emerald Bio seeks to transform the treatment of disease through our structure-guided drug discovery solutions and our comprehensive target knowledge, we are excited to collaborate with the Broad Institute, CASIS, NanoRacks and Protein BioSolutions on this new study,” said Johan Pontin, CEO of Emerald Bio. “Given that proteins are at the heart of all disease, microgravity may prove to be integral to developing novel treatments for disorders. This information may help to advance our target-centric drug discovery efforts as our teams further integrate biophysics and comprehensive target knowledge to alter the treatment of disease.”

About Emerald Bio

Emerald Bio is combining transformative approaches to drug discovery with deep insights into human biology to develop novel treatments for pressing medical problems. We aspire to be the partner of choice for select clients to tackle the most challenging and promising targets to transform the treatment of disease. We call this collaborative experience Embiosis.

For more information, please visit www.embios.com.

About the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard was founded in 2003 to empower this generation of creative scientists to transform medicine with new genome-based knowledge. The Broad Institute seeks to describe all the molecular components of life and their connections; discover the molecular basis of major human diseases; develop effective new approaches to diagnostics and therapeutics; and disseminate discoveries, tools, methods, and data openly to the entire scientific community.

Founded by MIT, Harvard and its affiliated hospitals, and the visionary Los Angeles philanthropists Eli and Edythe L. Broad, the Broad Institute includes faculty, professional staff, and students from throughout the MIT and Harvard biomedical research communities and beyond, with collaborations spanning over a hundred private and public institutions in more than 40 countries worldwide. For further information about the Broad Institute, go to www.broadinstitute.org.


The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) was selected by NASA in July 2011 to maximize use of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory through 2020. CASIS is dedicated to supporting and accelerating innovations and new discoveries that will enhance the health and wellbeing of people and our planet. For more information, visit www.iss-casis.org.

About NanoRacks LLC

NanoRacks LLC was formed in 2009 to provide commercial hardware and services for the U.S. National Laboratory onboard the International Space Station. The company is unique in owning and marketing its own family of hardware, both inside and external to the space station. To date over 100 payloads have been deployed on space station and the current signed customer pipeline of over 50 payloads including domestic and international educational institutions, research organizations and government organizations, has propelled NanoRacks into a leadership position in understanding the emerging commercial market for low-earth orbit utilization. Visit www.nanoracks.com to learn more.

About Protein BioSolutions

Protein BioSolutions provides viable solutions for scientists involved in protein production, purification, characterization and crystallography. The company provides sales and service for instruments and devices to assist in the protein production workflow. For more information, visit www.pbiosolutions.com.