4 Biotech Startups Developing Breakthrough Drug Modalities

by Andrii Buvailo, PhD          Biopharma insight

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Topics: Novel Therapeutics   
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In the dynamic world of drug discovery, companies must continually innovate beyond their existing drug portfolios and modalities. Relying solely on familiar modalities limits the potential to develop more effective treatments.

The industry now explores a variety of therapeutic strategies, from established monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and RNA therapies to cutting-edge gene editing and cell therapies like CRISPR and CAR-T. 

Additionally, the small molecule space is evolving with technologies like PROteolysis TArgeting Chimeras (PROTACs), targeted protein degraders (TPDs), covalent inhibitors, and macrocycles, which target complex molecular structures previously deemed 'undruggable.' These advances, including the potential for synergistic combinations of these modalities, underscore the necessity for continuous innovation in drug discovery, integrating new and established technologies to develop groundbreaking treatments.

Here is a great report by Revvity Signals, The Innovation Imperative: Pioneering New Modalities for Therapeutic Leadership, which provides a bird’s eye view of the trends in the space of novel modalities: 

Image credit: Revvity Signals

Below, we review four biotech startups developing platform-based approaches to design novel breakthrough modalities, including the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into the process.


Orbis Medicines: nCycles

Orbis Medicines is a biotechnology company focused on pioneering a new class of orally bioavailable macrocycles, nCycles.

Macrocycles are a large and diverse family of compounds with highly desirable therapeutic properties, defined by the presence of a cyclic structure.

Orbis’ nGen platform is designed to systematically explore the macrocycle chemical space using a highly automated chemistry platform and deliver oral macrocycle drug candidates – nCycles – suitable for both intra- and extracellular targets. Orbis’ programs are focused on high-value oral alternatives to blockbuster biologic drugs and targets challenging for established modalities.

Orbis was founded in 2021 by the Seeds Investment team of Novo Holdings. In February 2024, the company announced its launch with a €26 million financing led by Novo Holdings and European life sciences venture firm Forbion.

Recently published research in Nature Chemical Biology demonstrates nGen's ability to deliver nCycles that are orally bioavailable, marking a new era for macrocycle drug discovery.

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Topics: Novel Therapeutics   

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