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Nautilus Expands Footprint to San Diego

BIOTECH: Firm Taps Local Talent for Proteomics Platform Tool

Nautilus Biotechnology, Inc. is expanding its footprint across the West Coast.

Nick Nelson
Nautilus Biotechnology, Inc.

On Jan. 26, the Seattle-based biotech announced the opening of its new office space at University Town Center. The 7,000-square-foot space adds a San Diego hub to Nautilus’ established presence in its headquarters of Seattle and its San Francisco Bay Area hub.

“We are excited to establish a third location for our growing team, extending beyond Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area into another of the world’s top biotech communities,” said Nick Nelson, senior vice president and chief business officer at Nautilus. “This latest expansion reflects our commitment to building a robust business and scientific community dedicated to understanding the human proteome to help fundamentally revolutionize health and medicine.”

Illumina of Proteomics

“[Nautilus] is one of the more exciting life science tools companies that San Diego has seen,” said Nelson, who will be leading the team at the University Town Center facility.

Nautilus is in the development stage of producing a “very unique type of proteomic reader” capable of single molecule data output, “which is really unprecedented in this space,” he said. “The company is an ambitious vision to revolutionize a part of the life science tools space that hasn’t had a lot of innovation in it for a while.”

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Nautilus’ innovation is a complex next-gen proteomics analysis system being designed “to do a lot of what Illumina did in genomics, but in the proteomics field,” Nelson said, adding that San Diego was the ideal place to locate its mechanical engineering, reagent development, software engineering and bioinformatics facility because of the “great talent pool” in San Diego for each of these specialties.

Nautilus is currently looking to hire 20 to 30 people in San Diego and envisions expanding its workforce into a “substantial staff,” Nelson said.

“This is a starter space,” he said. “We want to establish roots in the area and really grow from there.”

Promise of Proteomics

Proteomics as a science holds a lot of promise in diagnostics and drug discovery because proteins “are where all the activity in the cell is derived from – biology happens at the protein level,” Nelson said, adding that research into the field has been mostly hampered by the tools to study them, whish are “really not very good.”

“We are good at understanding the genome, but that is predicting what will happen at the protein level,” he said. “To physically read [the proteome], you may find something completely novel that you would never have seen by reading genetic code.”

For those discoveries to happen, a foundational system must be built to read the human proteome at sufficient depth and sensitivity to enable drug discovery.

“The more robust data out there, the more clinical applications start to emerge,” Nelson said. “You’ll see specific biomarkers or patterns of proteins that are important in human health and disease. Those will become readable on our system and over time I see a transition into the clinic, but initially we start as a research tool.”

Proteomics Partnerships

That transition from research to clinical use is already underway.

On Jan. 19, Nautilus announced its fifth early collaboration program – a partnership with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), part of City of Hope, to explore the utility of the Nautilus platform by studying specific protein targets in diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a rare and often fatal childhood cancer.

DIPG is a brain tumor that occurs in an area of the brainstem which controls many of the body’s most vital functions such as breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. Because of its location in the brain and how rapidly it progresses, DIPG is difficult to treat and is regarded as a high-grade malignant brain tumor. DIPG is characterized by specific mutations in genes coding for histone proteins. These affected histones then reprogram the epigenome, ultimately leading to cancer.

Dr. Patrick Pirrotte
Director, Integrated Mass Spectrometry Shared Resource
City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center

“Nautilus’ ability to measure mutations and post-translational modifications on individual histone molecules will provide critical new insights into how proteoform variation drives the biology of this terrible disease,” said Dr. Patrick Pirrotte, associate professor at  TGen and  director of Integrated Mass Spectrometry Shared Resource at City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Nelson said the partnership with TGen is part of Nautilus’ strategy to collaborate throughout the development process of its platform, ahead of its anticipated commercial launch in 2024. In addition to partnerships, the company also offers a First Access Challenge program “to give a handful of researchers the chance to run a pilot with us with the very first systems that we build.”

Nautilus Biotechnology, Inc.

Founded: 2016
CEO: Sujal Patel
Headquarters: Seattle
Business: Developer of proteomics platform tool
Stock: NAUT (Nasdaq)
Revenue: Pre-revenue
Employees: 140
Website: nautilus.bio
Notable: Nautilus’ proteomic reader is capable of single molecule data output.


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