By travelling to the four corners of the Earth, a startup is rapidly increasing the number of proteins known to science
Spotted: Proteins are a big business, used in a host of applications at the cutting edge of medicine, electronics, materials science, and even fashion. Developing novel proteins is vital to growth in these areas, but the custom design of proteins is a big challenge as it is difficult to model the way a protein’s 3D structure and function are encoded in its amino acid sequence. To speed up the process, scientists turn to databases – collections of proteins known to science.
Now, a recent entrant in the protein database market – Basecamp Research – has developed what it calls the largest, most sophisticated, entirely ethically sampled graph database of natural biodiversity in existence. The startup finds the proteins by sending expeditions to all corners of the globe, including the harshest, most remote places. It has pioneered entirely off-grid metagenomic DNA analysis.
Rather than a catalogue, Basecamp Research has designed its database as a knowledge graph, a network that illustrates the relationships between novel proteins. It analyses the environmental context of proteins and the network architecture of the graph to predict function for the proteins and uncover previously unseen relationships between enzyme and protein classes. This helps scientists to quickly identify those proteins best suited to their research.
The company’s co-founder, Oliver Vince, says the aim is to help clients find solutions among the great untapped diversity of biomolecules on the planet. “At Basecamp, we know the answers to our greatest challenges can be uncovered in our environment,” said Vince. “Recent advances in bioinformatics, AI, and data science are enabling our team to map a world of untapped possibility, and we’re just getting started.”
Written By: Lisa Magloff