Our Approach

Pioneering the next generation of drug discovery

Creating new therapies by treating cellular mechanisms that cause disease


Hundreds of diseases remain unsolved because they haven't been addressed in their cellular context.

Many processes like signaling, transcription, trafficking and protein interactions involve the orchestration of hundreds of proteins within the cell. Understanding and treating the dysfunction of these mechanisms at the cellular level is often the key to therapeutic success. Rather than traditional discovery approaches that consider a purified target outside this cellular context, Octant engineers cellular sensors to report on the processes we are targeting. We use these cellular sensors to better understand how to modulate these processes and to develop new drugs against them.

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The Octant Navigator is a next-generation approach to drug discovery

The Octant Navigator is a high-throughput (HT) empirical drug discovery platform that integrates Cellular Intelligence and structure activity relationships (SAR) to guide drug design.  

Cellular intelligence

Cellular Intelligence is our high-throughput approach to drug design through understanding the cellular mechanisms that underlie disease. We build mammalian synthetic biology toolkits to rapidly design, build, and test cellular sensors that report on activities like signaling, expression, trafficking, stability and interactions of disease target pathways. Using RNA-barcoding technologies, we can simultaneously read out on hundreds to millions of conditions to build drugs with highly desired profiles.


Our nano-scale automated chemistry synthesis platform enables us to build large libraries of related molecules to engineer quality drug candidates. Unlike approaches that use large libraries of unrelated compounds, we empirically screen thousands of analogs to discover which chemical modifications turn weak target binders into drug-like compounds. By screening focused libraries in a direct-to-biology approach we can fine-tune pharmacologies to satisfy challenging target profiles using iterative learning loops between synthesis and screening.

Computation and Automation

Advanced machine learning and automation technologies enable Cellular Intelligence and HT-SAR to iterate in a positive feedback loop. We design, build, test, and learn weekly, iterating on the results of tens of thousands of novel chemicals screened against next-generation assays. Our computational pipeline shapes these millions of empirical readouts into actionable insights quickly, enabling us to design better molecules.

Deep Mutational Scanning

A new frontier for understanding protein function

Deep Mutational Scanning (DMS) harnesses Octant’s Cellular Intelligence platform to design, build, and screen thousands to millions of cell lines, generating unique insights into a protein’s function. We engineer a distinctly barcoded cell line for every amino acid substitution of the target, mapping the functional response molecules acting on each of those cells. Precisely understanding the extent to which a residue or mutation of a protein differentially drives each of its activity pathways opens entirely new capabilities for building better drugs. 

DMS reveals which amino acids are sensitive to or tolerant of mutations, painting a map of how the ligand interacts with the target to drive function.

Our therapeutic approach

The Octant Navigator enables new approaches to treat serious diseases.

Programs & Pipeline