Alex Blais

University of Ottawa
Project Title: Synthetic protein design for human health and agriculture
Industry Partner: Designed Biologics, IBM Canada Ltd.
Project Partners: Frank Dehne, Ashkan Golshani
Platforms: Blue Gene/Q, Cloud Analytics

Advanced Manufacturing Health

SOSCIP Project Summary (provided by researcher)

Synthetic novel proteins (not found in nature) that are designed to fulfill a predetermined biological function can be used as molecular markers, inhibitory agents, or drugs. For example, a synthetic protein could bind to a critical protein of a pathogen, thereby inhibiting the function of the target protein and potentially reducing the impact of the pathogen. During our recent SOSCIP project, we have built the In-Silico Protein Synthesizer (InSiPS), a massively parallel computational tool for the IBM Blue Gene/Q that is aimed at designing synthetic inhibitory proteins. More precisely, InSiPS designs proteins that are predicted to interact with a given target protein (and may inhibit the target’s cellular functions) while leaving non-target proteins unaffected (to minimize side-effects).

The main goal of our proposed new SOSCIP project is to build a new InSiPS version, InSiPS-H, capable of designing synthetic proteins for human protein targets and to use InSiPS-H in collaborative research with medical researchers to facilitate the design of novel therapeutic treatments. Building InSiPS-H is a challenging task. The human proteome has approx 20,000 proteins (yeast has approx. 6,000 proteins) and many human proteins are much longer than yeast proteins.