Drug discovery for longevity harnesses the power of quantum computing

Allosteric co-founder on combining genetics and quantum computing to uncover the secrets of longevity.

The recent collaboration between Allosteric Bioscience and Polaris Quantum Biotech brought together the worlds of quantum computing and longevity. Leveraging a quantum artificial intelligence platform called QAB, Allosteric aims to transform drug discovery to improve aging, longevity and age-related diseases.

Longevity.Technology: Quantum computing has long been touted for its potential to transform human understanding and progress in many fields. But, until news from Allosteric and Polaris, there had been relatively little discussion of its specific application in the science of aging. We caught up with Allosteric Co-Founder and President Dr. Arthur P Bollon to find out how quantum promises to transform longevity drug discovery and development.

Founded in 2021, Allosteric is a new company. So new, in fact, that it doesn’t even have a website yet. But make no mistake – between them, Bollon and his co-founders, Bruce Meyers and Dr. Peter Sordillo, have decades of expertise in biotechnology and biomedical sciences, spanning genomics, epigenetics, systems biology, proteomics and, of course, quantum physics.

Quantum: a new revolution

“We are in the middle of a new revolution, which is quantum computing,” says Bollon. “Today, using a process called quantum annealing, which we use with Polaris, it’s already about 10,000 times faster than the fastest supercomputer. But authorities estimate that in less than two years it could be more than a million times faster.

Bollon believes this massive increase in computing power has the potential to help us understand the world around us.

“Quantum computing offers a better way to understand the interconnectedness of everything – biology, the environment, the universe – everything,” he says. “At Allosteric, we apply this mindset of interconnectedness to aging and longevity.”

As a concept, it sounds impressive, but how can it be used in practice to advance the field of aging?

“For aging, quantum computing can help us understand what factors and pathways are involved,” Bollon says. “And, when we identify a pathway, it also increases our ability to manipulate it and find positive factors. We have developed a methodology to allow us to integrate quantum computing AI capability with the biomedical disciplines of genomics, genetics, proteomics, systems, biology, etc.

Genetics: Nature’s Quantum Computer

Bollon’s background in genetics is key to Allosteric’s approach to finding the interconnectivities in aging.

“Let’s say you’ve identified a pathway and you’re trying to figure out how it relates to aging, and if there’s any benefit to targeting that pathway,” he says. “Chances are that genetics has already done it. Genetics is like millions of years of R&D – it’s nature’s quantum computer and it’s mostly been used to solve biochemical problems, but I think it’s also essential for aging.

Bollon says progeria, a disease of premature aging, indicates that the responses to aging may reside in our genes.

“Progeria is a genetic disease linked to aging,” he says. “It’s not exactly like normal aging, but many changes in the body are similar to the aging process. Using nature’s quantum computer (genetics), we have identified a protein target linked to both progeria and normal aging.

Through its collaboration with quantum computing specialist Polaris, Allosteric is now investigating this target further.

“We used our QAB platform to create a library of billions of molecules, and we are now screening to identify initially maybe 100,000 molecules, then a few thousand, up to maybe 10 or 20,” explains Bolton. “If all goes well, these molecules will have the ability to modulate the critical protein implicated in normal aging and in progeria.

“If we could modulate this protein, could it reverse the effect of something like progeria, could it prolong longevity, and could it prevent adverse events in the normal aging process? Based on our calculations and ideas, we believe it has great potential.

Multiple aging targets and modulators

Bollon is keen to point out that progeria is just one example of where Allosteric is focusing and that the company has identified “other targets” and is conducting the same approach on each.

“In addition to our QAB platform, we also have our Aging Longevity Targets (ALT) platform to identify targets through genetics and other factors, and our Aging Longevity Modulators (ALM) platform to create modulators against targets. “, he explains. “Rather than trying to reprogram cells, do gene therapy, change this or that, we’re doing something much more fundamental. We take a genetic process, which took millions of years to develop and use the information from that genetic result to help us identify the target, and then use all of these new technologies to create the modulators.

Beyond the obvious benefit of unprecedented levels of processing speed and power, Bollon says the real value of quantum computing is the better understanding it can provide.

“It’s not just about speed, but it’s about the ability to make connections that can give you a deeper answer to your problem. For example, there were math problems that took decades to solve, but were solved very quickly using computers. Something as complex as aging could take many more centuries to be fully understood and able to modulate. But with the quantum computer, it might only take a few years.

Photography: Tara Winstead/Unsplash

Sherry J. Basler