Applied Proteomics, Co-Founded by Danny Hillis, Gets New CEO, $22.5M

Xconomy San Diego — 

Applied Proteomics hasn’t exactly been operating in stealth mode since it was founded five years ago. Co-founders David Agus, a cancer specialist at USC, and Danny Hillis, the MIT-trained computer scientist, gave TedMed talks about the startup’s technology, which provides a 40-gigabyte snapshot of all the proteins circulating in a drop of blood. By pure coincidence, I watched John Stewart’s Feb. 2 interview with Agus last night on “The Daily Show.”

“Danny and David had the foresight to build the tool before trying to use the tool,” says John Blume, a molecular biologist who joined API in 2008 as chief scientific officer. “Although the company wasn’t in stealth mode, the first several years were spent in taking the time to make it right, and then to use it and avoid some of the stumbling blocks.”

Now Applied Proteomics is raising the curtain on several steps that mark its progress beyond a seed-stage startup that was incubating at Applied Minds, an industrial think tank that Hillis founded in Glendale, CA, with a colleague from Disney Imagineering. After moving the headquarters to San Diego late last year, Applied Proteomics is today naming a new CEO—Peter Klemm, a veteran in molecular diagnostics and the former CEO of Lexington, MA-based Predictive Biosciences.

Danny Hillis

The company known as API says it also secured $22.5 million last June in Series B funding from Domain Associates (San Diego partner Jim Blair joined the board), Seattle’s Vulcan Capital, and returning angel investors. Klemm tells me the company raised $4 million from angel investors (who prefer to go unnamed) in what amounted to API’s Series A round in 2007.

David Agus

API’s goal, Klemm says, is nothing less than to “elevate molecular diagnostics to another level beyond the genome” by measuring the proteins made by genes—a long-sought technology that is expected to help doctors improve medical care for individual patients. Because proteins carry out most cellular functions, the company says a snapshot of all the proteins circulating in the body at a given moment represents “the most powerful source of information” in terms of understanding a patient’s health status.

Quantifying all the proteins in the body, Klemm says, can help doctors optimize the course of treatment for individual patients by making it easier to identify the specific drugs that would have the greatest effect on blocking specific proteins or signaling pathways, which can vary dramatically from person to person.

In a statement from the company, Hillis says, “For the first time, we can look at all the proteins in the body with remarkable specificity and sensitivity and use proteomic technology to create … Next Page »

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