Sanjay Shukla, the President and CEO of aTyr Pharma, focuses on the extracellular functionality and signaling pathways of tRNA synthetases.
The lead clinical product candidate ATYR1923 is a potential disease-modifying therapy for patients with severe inflammatory lung diseases, including interstitial lung disease pulmonary sarcoidosis.
Sanjay explains, "Dr. Schimmel, for many years, has been really interested in an enzyme in all of our bodies called tRNA synthetases. These are basic building block enzymes that help us make proteins. They work inside the cell by shepherding an amino acid to a tRNA, and this, in turn, helps us make proteins. For many years, it was thought to be a kind of well-understood class of enzymes."
"Dr. Schimmel discovered, and he published this in both Science and Nature papers about 12 years ago, was for some reason these enzymes break apart into fragments. Those fragments migrate out of the cell, and they travel to different tissues and organ systems in our bodies, and there they play a very different role, a nonenzymatic role. In fact, they are mostly involved in controlling local immune environments. So our job at aTyr is to really look at this new protein class of therapeutics and determine where they might best fit in helping patients and different disease pathways."