Dark Matter Blog

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Fearlessly Forward to our Destination

January 9th, 2023
by Jennifer Petter, PhD
Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Arrakis

We are moving rapidly toward escape velocity in our RNA expedition at Arrakis. We want to mark this progress with some updates and perspectives in the Dark Matter blog. In the months ahead, we are rolling out a series of posts called “Fearlessly Forward” to bring you up to speed on how we’ve moved forward […]

Video: Fearlessly Forward

January 9th, 2023
by Jennifer Petter, PhD
Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Arrakis

To the Builders Blazing our Path to Amazing Medicines

July 19th, 2021
by Michael Gilman, PhD
CEO, Arrakis

Arrakis has gone through many significant transitions since its founding in 2015. We’ve evolved and matured scientifically. We’ve added investors and partners. And, of course, people come and go. Today, we reach a bittersweet transition at Arrakis. We bid our head of research and employee #005, Jim Barsoum, au revoir, as he marches bravely into […]

Want A Great Team? Pick Great Leaders.

July 19th, 2021
by Jennifer Petter, PhD
Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Arrakis

Back in 2015, I felt compelled to set out in a new direction in drug discovery. I was in my third year as VP of Chemistry for Celgene. This was a great gig – good people, good science. However, it required a level of travel that began to seem excessive. My kids were old enough […]

A Look Back

July 16th, 2021
by James Barsoum, PhD
Senior Vice President of Biology, Arrakis

49 years ago, when I was 16 years old, I wanted to do exactly what I am doing now. The only subject in school that held my interest was biology. As soon as I learned about DNA and RNA, I wanted to be a molecular biologist. I wanted to use molecular biology to create drugs. […]

Reaching cruising altitude: New discovery tools to target RNA

August 31st, 2020
by Herschel Mukherjee
Scientist II, Chemistry, Arrakis

The majority of small molecule drugs induce their therapeutic effects by seeking out and binding to their intended target while avoiding most other molecules in the dense milieu of the cell interior. In doing so, biological processes that rely on a specific target can be selectively modulated, ultimately producing the desired therapeutic effect. Understanding the […]

A new drug approval for the vanguard of RNA-targeted small molecules

August 27th, 2020
by Jennifer Petter, PhD
Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Arrakis

A few years ago, at Arrakis Therapeutics, we set out to conquer a strange new territory, drugging RNA structures with small molecules. We have overcome many obstacles on this mission, inventing new concepts and methods where necessary and re-engineering known concepts and methods where possible. But we have not been the only people on this […]

BioCentury This Week Podcast: Consummating a deal under lockdown: Roche and Arrakis

May 5th, 2020
by Podcast

In a special podcast interview with BioCentury’s Editor in Chief Simone Fishburn, James Sabry, Global Head of Pharma Partnering at Roche and Mike Gilman CEO of Arrakis discuss consummating this deal while under lockdown of COVID-19.

Following our pole star to a transformative collaboration

April 8th, 2020
by Michael Gilman, PhD
CEO, Arrakis

It is an axiom of effective navigation, on earth or water or in interstellar space, that you need a fixed point to guide you. A beacon that shines clearly, never changes, never moves. If you drift off course, it pulls you back, keeps you on track. Locking your eyes on the pole star is critically […]

Arrakis achieves escape velocity

April 18th, 2019
by Michael Gilman, PhD
CEO, Arrakis

When last we spoke (here and here), Arrakis had just achieved liftoff with a $38M Series A financing in February 2017, and we were awash in fascinating and, in some cases, vexing questions. Two of my own questions that stand out upon rereading those posts from two years ago are: Is medicinal chemistry truly limited […]

Data‐driven Guideposts for Targeting RNA

August 1st, 2018
by Chris Burge, PhD
Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

RNA’s fundamental role in biology has made it a burgeoning area for technology development and application, including as an intervention point for drug development. Virtually every step in the expression of a human gene involves RNA, from transcription through processing, localization and, ultimately, translation – the final step on the way from DNA to protein. […]

A Transition at Arrakis

June 26th, 2018
by Michael Gilman, PhD
CEO, Arrakis

Earlier this spring, Russ Petter – our Founder and CSO, very much the heart and soul of Arrakis, and a guy I’ve known for nearly twenty years – told me he had something he wanted to talk to me about and how about we do it over dinner. I didn’t think twice about it at […]

Targeting RNA – Lessons Learned from Oligos

May 8th, 2018
by James Barsoum, PhD
Senior Vice President of Biology, Arrakis

Arrakis’s mission is to drug the transcriptome.  The ability to modulate RNA biology using drug-like small molecules – we call them rSMs – will open up a vast, previously undruggable, target space.  New therapeutic capabilities will include altering the expression of proteins that cannot be targeted directly with conventional small molecules, as well as modulating […]

The Rime of the Ancient Medicinal Chemist: Structure, Structure Everywhere

April 20th, 2018
by Jennifer Petter, PhD
Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Arrakis

Our mission at Arrakis is to find small-molecule drugs that bind RNA, or RNA-targeted Small Molecules (rSMs). One of the articles of faith that informs and motivates this mission is that non-ribosomal RNA folds into structures that present small-molecule-compatible pockets and that those structures mediate important biological events. And, just as importantly, that binding of […]

Drug-Likeness and RNA-Targeted Small Molecules

April 1st, 2018
by Thomas Hermann
Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at University of California, San Diego and Co-Director, UCSD Center for Drug Discovery Innovation

Only a minuscule fraction of the human genome is devoted to encoding proteins, yet proteins provide nearly 100% of the targets for currently marketed drugs. The few exceptions include antisense and RNAi oligonucleotides, some DNA-binding cancer therapeutics such as doxorubicin and cisplatin, and a chemically diverse group of antibiotics that interfere with bacterial protein biosynthesis […]

RNA Dynamics – A Bug or a Feature?

March 24th, 2018
by Donovan Chin
Director of Computational Drug Discovery, Arrakis

Though not nearly as famous as its double-stranded cousin, RNA is a fascinating molecule and its potential as a drug discovery substrate continues to unfold beyond merely transferring information from DNA into proteins. To perform its role in the cell, RNA must move, contort and adapt to a wide range of functional and regulatory requirements. […]

The prospect of RNA targeting using small molecules

December 13th, 2017
by David Chenoweth, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry University of Pennsylvania

Small molecules that bind to macromolecular nucleic acids are well known. Before the 1960s, dyes such as aminoacridines, were utilized by histologists and biologists to image specific sub-nuclear structures.1 This was perhaps the earliest recognition that small molecules can bind macromolecular nucleic acids. In 1961, the first nucleic acid-small molecule binding hypothesis (the “intercalator hypothesis”) […]

Why NOW for Targeting RNA with Small Molecules?

November 28th, 2017
by Jennifer Petter, PhD
Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Arrakis

In “The Right Stuff,” Tom Wolfe noted that astronauts were granted hero status before their missions, perhaps because no one expected them to return. Happily, Arrakis also has received a lot of laudatory attention just for launching the mission of drugging RNAs with small molecules – before we’ve even achieved it. The plaudits are lovely, […]

RNA State of Mind

October 25th, 2017
by Neil Kubica, PhD
Director of RNA Biology, Arrakis

Perspectives from the ‘Targeting RNA Using Small Molecules’ meeting @NYASciences #rSMs  Our team at Arrakis Therapeutics recently had the pleasure to co-sponsor the ‘Targeting RNA Using Small Molecules’ symposium at the New York Academy of Sciences. While several conference sessions over the years have focused on our favorite topic, including the (in)famous Gordon Conference that […]

Drugging the Undruggable: Transcription Factors

July 12th, 2017
by James Barsoum, PhD
Senior Vice President of Biology, Arrakis

As we battle to expand the reach of modern therapeutics to treat diseases with high unmet need, we confront the limitations in our armamentarium. Most often we are limited by biology – we don’t understand the molecular drivers of disease and consequently don’t know which targets to aim at. But the more frustrating situation is […]

Discovering a New World of RNA-Targeted Medicines

February 27th, 2017
by Michael Gilman, PhD
CEO, Arrakis

So here we are. Nearly two years in the making, much of it focused, fastidious work by founder Jennifer Petter (of whom much more below), capped by an exhilarating and exhausting sprint to the finish by an outstanding team, Arrakis Therapeutics has now lifted off. Today we announced a $38M Series A financing led by […]

Escaping the Gravitational Pull of “Druggability”

February 22nd, 2017
by Michael Gilman, PhD
CEO, Arrakis

Most old-timers in drug discovery will agree on one thing: It never gets easier. Sure, maybe we learn a little from our mistakes along the way and the toolkit gets steadily flashier. But the easy targets, if ever they were truly easy ones, are long gone. We are left with either inscrutable biology or, even […]

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