Fauna Bio CEO on tapping extreme mammals for human disease breakthroughs

[Paradigma Studios/Adobe Stock]

Could the genetic secrets of “extreme mammals” help unlock treatments for myriad human diseases? The Emeryville, California–based startup Fauna Bio is betting on that premise.  One of the animals the firm is studying include the 13-lined ground squirrel, which can double its body weight in fat accumulation in summer before entering hibernation in an obese state. After entering hibernation for roughly half the year, the squirrels’ enter a state of extreme metabolic suppression where their metabolic rate dips to 1–3% of normal.

Fauna Bio has inked significant deals with pharmaceutical giants Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk, tapping its Convergence AI platform to identify potential obesity drug targets across 452 mammal species, including 65 other hibernators in addition to the 13-lined ground squirrel. The insights from the research could pave the way for new treatments for a…

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