Patent Board science strength of biotech firms in WSJ

The Wall Street Journal Patent Board Biotechnology Scorecard was published this week in which biotech companies & private research firms are grouped by their Patent Board science strength ranking “which is based on the scale, quality, impact, and nearness to core science of a company’s patent-based intellectual property”.

What I found interesting at the first sight is Geron‘s nice position and the lack of Genentech. Also take a look on the charts and compare, say Illumina and Affymetrix or the research intensity/innovation cycle ratio in case of the same company.

Says my source, San Diego biased marketing expert Rick Cook in an in medias res email:

“Three of the top 10 science-based researchers, according to the rankings, are based in San Diego. Several other San Diego companies fall outside the top 10.
Nanogen, one of my clients, made the rankings. What’s particularly interesting about Nanogen — who competes against #1-ranked Roche — is that the company has by far the lowest market cap (just over $28 million) represented in the rankings. In fact, if you divide patents issued by market cap, which could be used as a proxy for size, Nanogen ranks number one — dollar-for-dollar the most innovative company on the list.”

Will JoVE’s new science blog service reinvent the genre?

JoVE pyrosequencingThe pioneer biological video publishing site JoVE (covered here many times) will soon launch a blogging platform and a community site. Nikita Bernstein, the main nerd behind JoVE is building the code and the platform – as Anne Kushnir informed me – should hopefully go live in the next couple of weeks. At least that is what can be known publicly.
The expectations are high and the JoVE guys (co-founders Moshe Pritsker and Nikita) themselves raised the bar with the quality and concept of video-protocols. As JoVE is a startup, not an established company with big inertia, they could be experimental but within the limits of their investors’ patience and money.

The real question for me whether JoVE’s blogging service can renew the genre of science blogging or at least bring a previously non-existing color into it? Points:

– Who will become JoVE’s first generation bloggers? Fresh blood? If yes what will be the source? Senior scientists, high school students, postdocs in the U.S.A., discovering the web?

– Existing bloggers who’d like to syndicate their content? Bloggers from Scienceblogs, Nature Network or from the DNA Network? Independent bloggers from outside theses established circles? Journalists? What will be the bait? For existing bloggers, who are tempted to commercialize their activity somehow the crucial question is whether they can generate any revenue out of this new platform? Will they be paid by traffic, and if yes how competitive are the tariffs? Is it possible to install paid ads, banners on the blogs and the bloggers could be paid based on pay per click methods just like Google AdSense?

– What about content rights? Exclusive, non-exclusive, et cetera? Would there be any topic restrictions? How can quality science blogging and credit is maintained in the long term? Continue reading

CIRM and NIH stem cell grants to the biotech industry

Different attitudes, same endeavors.

1. The folks at the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) started to offer grants for biotech companies up to $55,000 out of the 3 billion ‘hope’ dollars.

San Diego Union Tribune: Industry and academia team up:

For the first time in its three-year existence, the state taxpayer-funded stem cell institute is offering grant money to biotechnology companies….The stem cell institute wants to issue up to 20 planning grants to allow prospective disease-team members to hold teleconferences and travel to meetings around the state with potential collaborators to work out the details of how their group would function.

The idea is to form a team whose members have expertise in all areas of developing a drug or diagnostic – from the initial idea to testing it on animal models, producing enough of it for experiments and figuring out how it meets the needs of patients.

2. On the other hand, the NIH people in Bethesda, Maryland like the West and East Coast United Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) but not because the company’s single cell biopsy method for creating ethical ES cells.

Reuters: Advanced Cell Technology Awarded Grant from the NIH Continue reading

Web entrepreneurs and biotech: strangers from distant lands

Elrond: Strangers from distant lands, friends of old you have been summoned here to answer the threat of Mordor. Middle Earth stands upon the brink of destruction, none can escape it. You will unite or you will fall. Each race is bound to this fate, this one doom. Bring forth the ring, Frodo.
[Frodo puts the ring on a stand for all to see]
Boromir: So it is true. In a dream, I saw the Eastern sky grow dark. But in the West, a pale light lingered. A voice was crying, “The doom is near at hand, Isildur’s Bane is found.”
[Reaches for the Ring]
Boromir: Isildur’s Bane…
Aragorn: Boromir!
Gandalf: speaking the words engraved on the Ring] Ash Nazg Durbatuluk, Ash Nazg Gimbatul, Ash Nazg Thrakatuluk, Agh Burzum-ishi Krimpatul.
[the light darkens and the air rumbles; Boromir backs away from the Ring]

Let us form the first real alliance of BT folks and IT people through personalized genomics (and later with regenerative medicine as I hope so), but take care, biologists and geneticists have way too powerful tools and web entrepreneurs are greedily looking for new territory with their unconceivable computational and storage capacity and perpetual hunger! Go, go, push, push! (Of course, there is no such thing as an outside threat of Mordor in this situation, the real threat (the other side of the reward coin) as in every revolutionary case is the shared ambition of tech people to make formerly impossible things possible).

The following words are from Welcome to the Future:

Some analysts predict that the genetic-testing market 23andMe is entering could be worth a staggering $12.5 billion by 2009. Naturally, this has attracted the interest of Web entrepreneurs. They see an industry that is largely unregulated (so far) and costs only a few million dollars to enter—the price of a few brilliant programmers, a website, and marketing—and are betting that people will pay to test their own DNA directly. One indication of the potential market is that online medical-information companies are starting to make real profits. WebMD, for instance, attracts 40 million users a month and expects to net more than $30 million this year, mostly from ad sales. “I’m convinced there is an early-adopter market here,” says Sue Siegel, former president of Affymetrix and now a venture capitalist at Mohr Davidow. “Millions of people are used to getting health-care information online.” Continue reading

SENS3: The stem cell marketplace by Linda Powers, Tucan Capital (slides)

Linda Powers is the managing director and co-founder of Toucan Capital Corp, a $120 million venture capital fund (SBIC) focused on seed and early-stage life science and advanced technology investments (the fund markets itself as the The Leading US Investor in Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine). Out of here insights and facts presented on the SENS3 conference (I caught some of her slides with my iPhone, see below) I’d like to highlight the following ones:
– the anti-aging market today is approx. 42 billion dollars,
– the number of issued and published U.S. stem cell patents has been decreased for the first time since 2000 compared to the earlier year,
– viable business models in regenerative medicine are still missing,
– first-to-trial and -market is not always advantageous in regmed.