It was a big week for synthetic biology in San Diego, a bit rocky for Bothell, WA-based Alder’s IPO, and South San Francisco’s Exelixis had some encouraging results from an early-stage trial of melanoma patients. Here’s our wrap-up.
—A new San Diego startup called Synthorx is working to capitalize on a breakthrough in synthetic biology developed by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute. The team, led by chemist Floyd Romesberg, successfully inserted synthesized nucleotides into bacteria, which replicated with the altered DNA. Someday, scientists might be able to use altered DNA them to make new proteins that would function in a completely different way from those created naturally.
—Meanwhile, San Diego-based Synthetic Genomics signed a multi-year R&D agreement with a United Therapeutics subsidiary, Lung Biotechnology, to use its synthetic genomics technology to develop pigs with organs that have been humanized for future xenotransplantation. Synthetic Genomics CEO J. Craig Venter, the human genome pioneer, said the idea will require modifying an unprecedented number of pig genes.
—In another sign that the biotech IPO market is flagging, Bothell, WA-based Alder Biopharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALDR) priced its IPO at $10 a share, well below its projected range of $13 to $15 per share. Alder has been developing clazakizumab, a rheumatoid arthritis drug, with Bristol-Myers Squibb, and recently presented positive results for an antibody drug for migraines. Boston’s Cerulean Pharma (NASDAQ: CERU) and Burlington, MA-based Aldeyra Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALDX) also sold IPO shares below their target ranges.