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Cyrus Biotech spins out company to expand reach of versatile drug development software

Seattle startup Cyrus Biotechnology is spinning out a business that will expand access to the company’s software technology, with the potential of supporting innovation in drug development, agriculture, synthetic biology and manufacturing.

The new for-profit subsidiary is called Levitate Bio and will be owned by the Rosetta Commons Foundation. The foundation was created by RosettaCommons, a multi-institution coalition that built a software platform called Rosetta that is used for modeling biomolecular compounds.

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

David Baker, director of the UW’s Institute for Protein Design, runs the lab that developed Rosetta and is an advocate for open-source tools.

“Tech companies are really good at what they do. But by being in a closed environment, it’s hard to innovate broadly,” Baker said at a UW event earlier this year. “In our space, making code freely available has been clearly the best thing I could imagine.”

RELATED: Protein design pioneer David Baker on why sharing code is key to building biotech startups

A release from Cyrus announcing the news explains that the spinoff is in line 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 drug company focused on autoimmune diseases, will continue using the Cyrus platform.

Levitate CEO Sam DeLuca is the former director of engineering at Cyrus. Karen Khar will serve as executive vice president of sales and business development for the startup. Khar was previously Cyrus’ manager of scientific affairs.

The Levitate team also includes engineers, bioinformatics developers and computational protein engineers with experience in physics- and AI-based algorithms.





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