Northern California’s Top 5 Biotech Innovation News Stories

12/28/10

The year that was 2010 was another year on the rollercoaster. We had our ups and our downs. But throughout, we continued to be at the forefront of innovation. From mature companies to emerging technologies, 2010 was an exciting year. Here are BayBio’s top five stories for 2010.

1. Amgen secures approval for two new treatments in 2010. In June, the FDA approved denosumab (Prolia) for the treatment of postmenoposaul women with osteoporosis who are at high risk for fracture. And in November, the FDA approved the same drug under a different name (Xgeva) for a different use, as the first and only RANK Ligand inhibitor for the prevention of skeletal-related events (SREs) in patients with bone metastases from solid tumors. The treatments were developed in South San Francisco and are another indication of the maturing market space for Northern California biotechnology companies.

2. Bay Area takes the lead on the next wave of sequencing technology. Menlo Park, CA-based Pacific Biosciences (NASDAQ: PACB) and Mountain View, CA-based Complete Genomics (NASDAQ: GNOM) were the first of next generation of sequencing companies to go public. Pacific Biosciences’s platform provides real-time analysis of biomolecules with single molecule resolution, enabling a deeper understanding of biological systems. Many believe this could lead to more affordable human genome sequencing. Complete Genomics enables researchers to conduct large-scale complete human genome studies.

3. Mission Bay becomes a magnet for BioPharma. Bayer HealthCare in May announced its U.S. Innovation Center to be located in Mission Bay. In addition, Nektar Therapeutics opened its new headquarters right next door. Then to add icing to the cake, Pfizer announced an $85 million partnership agreement with UCSF.

4. Amyris IPO paves way for fuel alternatives. In September, Emeryville, CA-based Amyris raised a modest $85 million in its initial public offering. With several competitive synthetic and alternative fuels emerging, Amyris’s offering represents the first steps to finding true alternatives to petroleum. We’ll have to wait and see what becomes of competitors like Solazyme, Codexis, and LS9, among others.

5. Stem cell treatments move closer to reality. Menlo Park, CA-based Geron (NASDAQ: GERN) began the first human trial in the U.S. with an embryonic stem cell treatment. The trial will attempt to repair a patient’s injured spinal cord. SanBio received FDA clearance in June for clinical testing of the company’s regenerative medicine for cerebral stroke.

[Editor's Note: This is part of a series of posts from Xconomists and other technology and life sciences leaders from around the U.S. who are weighing in with the top surprises they've seen in their respective fields in the past year, or the major things to watch for in 2011.]

Gail Maderis is President & CEO of BayBio, the industry organization representing and supporting Northern California’s life science community. Follow @

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