Cyrus Biotech Launches New Venture to Broaden Impact of Versatile Drug Development Software

Levitate Bio’s CEO Sam DeLuca, left, and Karen Khar, executive vice president of sales and business development. (LinkedIn Photos)

Seattle startup Cyrus Biotechnology is launching a new business aimed at broadening access to its software technology, with applications in drug development, agriculture, synthetic biology, and manufacturing.

The newly formed for-profit subsidiary is named Levitate Bio and will be held under the Rosetta Commons Foundation. This foundation was established by RosettaCommons, a multi-institution coalition responsible for developing Rosetta, a software platform utilized for modeling biomolecular compounds.

To date, the University of Washington has issued more than 60,000 non-commercial licenses to Rosetta users and over 200 licenses to commercial organizations.

David Baker, the director of the UW’s Institute for Protein Design, leads the lab that developed Rosetta and strongly advocates open-source tools.

“Tech companies excel at their specialties. However, being in a closed environment can hinder broader innovation,” Baker stated at a UW event earlier this year. “In our field, making code freely available has undoubtedly been the best approach I could envision.”

A release from Cyrus announcing the spinoff describes the move as aligning with a “software industry trend of pairing a for-profit services/software business with an innovative non-profit advancing core technology for industry-wide benefits.”

Cyrus, a pharmaceutical company focusing on autoimmune diseases, will continue utilizing the Cyrus platform.

Levitate CEO Sam DeLuca, formerly the director of engineering at Cyrus, will lead the new venture. Karen Khar will take on the role of executive vice president of sales and business development for the startup. Previously, Khar served as Cyrus’ manager of scientific affairs.

The Levitate team is comprised of engineers, bioinformatics developers, and computational protein engineers with expertise in physics- and AI-based algorithms.

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