Verily, the life sciences unit of Google parent Alphabet, has partnered with Verve Therapeutics to apply its nanoparticle platform to the creation of heart attack drugs.
The organization was initially interested in the diagnostic capabilities of nanoparticles, but a blog post published Tuesday on the Verily website by Nanoparticle Program Lead Mark Audeh said the team now believes the cell targeting that underpins these applications gives them therapeutic potential.
To explore that vision, Verily is contributing its nanoparticle platform and expertise to a collaboration with gene-editing startup Verve.
Verily has worked on nanoparticles since its early days as part of semi-secret R&D operation Google X. Back then, the researchers hoped to design nanoparticles that attached to specific types of cells and, upon reaching their targets, could be detected and measured using a body-worn device. Such a nanoparticle-device combination would have diagnostic applications.
The Verily research group also considered the therapeutic applications of the technology, noting that nanoparticles capable of latching onto specific cell types could underpin targeted therapies. But the shortcomings of commercially-available nanoparticles stymied those efforts.
Faced with that problem, Verily tried to develop a high-throughput synthesis and screening platform capable of generating libraries of well-characterized nanoparticles with predictable properties. This platform, which uses combinatorial chemistry to synthesize lipid-based nanoparticles, has attracted the interest of well-financed startup Verve.
Working with $58.5 million from GV, the investor formerly known as Google Ventures, and a clutch of other well-known financiers, Verve plans to use the Verily platform and other technologies to create drugs that edit genes to prevent heart attacks.
The application is far removed from Verily's original plans to use nanoparticles to diagnose and track diseases. Verve will leverage Verily's work to develop a high-throughput nanoparticle synthesis platform aimed at assessing the ability of the resulting particles to penetrate tissues and bind to specific cell types.
Verily's prior work has generated nanoparticle formulations that it has barcoded with DNA so it can track them during in vivo studies. The company hopes the research will lead to more efficient design and synthesization of particles.