Michael Gilman is the CEO of a biotech startup showing early progress on a technology that was once thought to be impossible, but which may herald an entirely new class of oral medicines.
Almost every pill people take works by altering the activity of a protein. Something like 99 percent of medicines, in fact, are targeted against disease-causing proteins. That’s fine, as long as those small-molecule drugs — the chemicals that are made into pills — are able to lock into the nooks and crannies of disease-causing proteins. The problem is that a vast majority of proteins, something like 85 percent, don’t have these nooks and crannies. And that means they are undruggable with conventional medicines.