Fauna Bio leverages animal genomics, hibernation biology to target human diseases

June 21, 2022 -- Biotech company Fauna Bio has a very different approach to the discovery of novel therapeutics. Instead of just relying on human gene targets, which can be sparse and difficult to find, the startup is leveraging animal genomics and hibernation biology to develop novel translational therapeutics for disease prevention and reduce the impact of age-related diseases in humans.

Fauna Bio co-founder and CEO Ashley Zehnder, who has a PhD in cancer biology and started her career as a clinical veterinarian, spoke with ScienceBoard.net at the 2022 Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) International Convention about the intersection of animal genomics, hibernation biology, and human diseases.

"This is shared physiology across species, but biomedical research largely only considers the human condition and not what we can learn from how these diseases present across species," Zehnder said.

Zehnder pointed out that hibernation requires mechanisms of self-healing and tissue repair to endure long periods of time in freezing temperatures without food. For example, she noted that 13-lined ground squirrels hibernate for about six months and have the remarkable ability to endure physiological events that replicate many aspects of heart attacks and strokes in humans.

At BIO 2022, Fauna Bio announced the release of Centaur, a knowledge graph that the company contends is the first of its kind to visualize the intersection between animal gene expression data and human diseases in one comprehensive map. The goal with Centaur is to more rapidly identify human disease indications and targets to generate new therapeutic solutions for some of the most serious human diseases.

Watch the video below to learn more.

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