Take Two Blueberry Jelly Beans and Call Me in the Morning: Cambridge Biotech’s Best and Brightest on Show (or Not)
I went to the Museum of Science yesterday, to see “Cambridge’s premier companies show-off their latest research and products, revealing what makes them world leaders in science!” At least, that was what the program for the city’s ongoing science festival touted.
Evidently, though, just three companies reckon themselves to be among the city’s best and brightest: Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and CombinatoRx were the only ones who showed up for live demonstrations. That was far fewer than I expected, from having watched similar events in my Swedish home town of Uppsala, where when the local biotech cluster puts on a show, close to a dozen firms turn out. After all, Cambridge companies such as Biogen (now Biogen Idec) and Genzyme helped pioneer biotech, and the city has been at the field’s forefront for two-plus decades. Maybe the other companies felt that the museum’s broken escalator was too big an obstacle to contend with.
Anyway, lots of visitors, mainly school kids, found their way down the stairs to the three-firm exhibition. Alnylam made a game try, with its stand showing the basics of DNA-based medicines. Vertex showed an informational video and had a person there with what I’ll call a fairly formal-style presentation. The clear crowd favorite was CombinatoRx, which demonstrated its strategy of combining different drugs to produce new results through a lively mixing of jelly beans (Take two blueberry beans and one buttered popcorn, and it will taste like blueberry muffin).