Unknown Molecules

The human body is very complicated. Every time we identify one new compound or process, we find another dozen that we don’t understand at all. The more we discover, the more apparent it is just how little we know, and this, of course, makes developing new treatments even more difficult. That doesn’t stop scientists from trying to figure it all out, however (https://longevity.technology/news/isospec-lands-funding-for-platform-that-identifies-unknown-molecules-at-scale/).

By some estimates, around 95% of the roughly 15,000 small biological molecules in a sample of human blood are unknown. They could provide invaluable insights into human health. They might be the key to some groundbreaking new treatment. They may just be something completely random, left over from a previous stage of evolution and of absolutely no help at all. We can’t tell – at least not yet.

IsoSpec Analytics is a startup that’s only been around since 2022, but it has its origins in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) and there’s a lot of experience behind it, along with a lot of technology. It’s looking to identify those unknown molecules, and it’s using everything from analytical chemistry to cryogenic material and photonics to do it. That’s along with its unique infrared spectroscopy.

Does this approach work? Well, it’s certainly more precise than the traditional method of identifying molecules: mass spectrometry. Mass spectrometry doesn’t just take more time; it only provides limited data. Some molecules will have the same mass but function completely differently. If one is healing and one is toxic but they look the same in analysis, we clearly need to dig a bit deeper.

It may only be a startup, but IsoSpec has had some success using its approach to analysis when exploring other types of molecules, like sugar and metabolites. That was enough to encourage investors such as the former Wingman Ventures, now known as Founderful, Venture Kick, and Tiny.vc. Between them, they’ve added $1.9 million to IsoSpec’s funding, ready to help it push its technology to the next stage.

This next stage is going to include machine learning, which will be completely integrated into IsoSpec’s soon-to-be automated platform. This will hopefully allow even more detailed and precise insights into a wide range of data, making the IsoSpec technology even more efficient.

You’ll need to keep an eye out to see if these investments bear fruit as IsoSpec continues to push its analytical technology forward.

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