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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Alexis Borisy, 31

Believes that combining different drugs could yield better ways to fight disease

CombinatoRX

For decades, “drug discovery” has meant screening millions of compounds to find one that will block a disease process. But Alexis Borisy says that approach is too simplistic. Since “the body always uses mixtures of molecules to regulate itself,” he says, it makes sense to do the same when treating disease. In 2000 Borisy founded CombinatoRx in Boston to search for molecules already proven safe for humans but that combat disease only when used in combination. Along the way, he had to reinvent drug screening. While pharmaceutical companies typically ask only one question about each compound- does it have an effect?- CombinatoRx examines compounds two at a time, in different doses, answering that question 36 separate times. Borisy says the company had to create new lab processes and write software to analyze its masses of data. CombinatoRx has raised $60 million and has launched human trials of three drug combinations designed to treat cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. “Fifty years from now,” Borisy says, “a majority of drugs will be combination by design.”

2003 TR35 Winners

Guillermo Ameer

Synthesized "biorubbers" that could replace damaged heart and lung tissue and rebuild blood vessels

Helene Andersson

Produces portable, inexpensive, microprocessor-size labs for research and industry

Sangeeta Bhatia

Uses microchip-manufacturing tools to build artificial livers

Alexis Borisy

Believes that combining different drugs could yield better ways to fight disease

Eugene Chan

Aims to speed genome sequencing with a machine that reads DNA letter by letter

Bassil Dahiyat

Designs proteins from scratch to create new medicine

Benjamin G. Davis

Manipulates biological sugars for more precise drug delivery

Christophe Echeverri

Develops fast, automated processes for figuring out genes functions

Michael E. Gertner

Set out to improve the tiny devices that keep once blocked arteries open

Jay Groves

Patented a lab-on-a-chip to investigate call proteins that cause diseases

Justin Hanes

Creates systems for delivering drugs to where theyre needed in the body

Andre Koltermann

Speeds protein evolution to improve detergents, medicines, and foods

Erin Lavik

Helped paralyzed rats walk again and aims to do the same for people

Xiangjun Liu

Maps gene variations that could warn of future disease

Anthony Lowman

Packs insulin into gel pills that could replace injections for diabetes patients

Gavin Macbeath

Unravels complex biological systems in his search for new drugs

Nimmi Ramanujam

Uses light to help make diagnosing breast cancer and cervical cancer faster, more accurate and less invasive

Shuvo Roy

Builds tiny machines that can warn of impending heart attack and monitor healing after surgery

Ram Samudrala

Wrote algorithms that can predict the functions of proteins from the sequence of a genome

Christophe Schilling

Transforms microbes into fine-tuned manufacturing machines

Mark Schnitzer

Sheds light on the functioning of individual brain cells

Mijail Serruya

Connects brains directly to computers int he hope of helping paralyzed people communicate and control robotic aids

Micah Siegel

Transforms research from universities and national labs into successful startups

Giovanni Traverso

Came up with a noninvasive alternative to colonoscopy

Rita Vanbever

Wants to make treating diabetes as easy as breathing

Ron Weiss

Programs living cells to sense toxins ot create replacement tissues

Jennifer West

Synthesizes blood vessels that could reduce the trauma of heart surgery

Daphne Zohar

Spots promising biotech work and helps build new companies to commercialize it

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