Sialix Moves into SD’s Janssen Labs to Focus on Inflammatory Target

1/3/13

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Neu5Gc. In November, the early stage company entered Janssen Labs, the life sciences business accelerator in San Diego that Johnson & Johnson established as part of its Janssen Research & Development’s West Coast Research Center.

Sialix CEO Jeff Behrens said the Janssen Labs program offers a multitude of advantages, including premier lab facilities, shared technology and equipment, and the chance to interact with the scientists and entrepreneurs from other biotech start-ups in the program. The Janssen Labs facility, which has room for 20 startups, has admitted 15 companies so far, and Behrens says, “it is an exciting place to be.”

Diego Miralles, who leads Janssen Healthcare Innovation, led the effort to establish the life sciences accelerator in San Diego as part of a “no strings attached” approach to fostering innovation. Miralles, who also is a San Diego Xconomist, wrote recently that Janssen Labs is an example of a broader effort by big pharmaceutical companies to stimulate innovation in drug development.

Sialix CEO Jeff Behrens

Jeff Behrens

So does Sialix nevertheless feel pressured to collaborate with J&J in the future? Behrens said, “It is truly no strings attached,” and that he feels free to initiate relationships with different pharmaceutical partners and to control the direction of Sialix products.

In fact, Behrens said he views the insider access to J&J as one of the draw cards of the Janssen accelerator program. By lessening the financial strains, the arrangement allows time for the Sialix team to prove the depth and value of their company.

Behrens describes Sialix as a “semi-virtual” company, with a core team of scientists and advisors who also rely on extensive outsourcing of lab services. With two scientists and one technician at Janssen Labs, Behrens runs the company headquarters in Cambridge and travels to San Diego every three or four weeks. He said the setup allows Sialix to … Next Page »

Juliet Preston is a San Diego science writer. Follow @

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