25 Startups Revolutionizing Biotechnology

Published by admin on June 04, 2010

It’s an exciting time in biotechnology. Our understanding of biology and our ability to improve upon technology is opening the way to a number of interesting applications and possibilities. Scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs are able to combine forces, in many cases, to create biotechnology startups that could change the world. Here are 25 startups that could revolutionize the biotechnology industry:

Funding, Biotechnology, Genetics and Optics

These are companies that focus on non-pharma applications for biotechnology. A wide range of interesting and helpful technologies could be coming from these companies.

  1. LucCell, Inc.: This company was actually started on the campus of Case Western University. A leader in the field of optogenetics, the company hopes to be able to use light to manipulate DNA. Tiny “light switches” would be used to help treat paralysis and Parkinson’s disease, by triggering malfunctioning brain cells to work properly. The president of LucCell is Jerry Silver, a former neurotechnology researcher at Case Western. The company could be the first to commercialize optogenetics.
  2. Mirina CorpMirina Corp.: Mirina Corp just recently received another batch of cash to keep it going for another year. Mirina is a startup inside Accelerator, a Seattle-based biotechnology investment company. Mirina is developing interesting microRNA technology that features enhanced properties that could actually help in the treatment of cancer, and of other diseases. Mirina’s claim to fame is that it offers more precise targeting of diseased cells, allowing for less damage to surrounding tissue.
  3. Accium BioSciences: This company is leading the way in commercial uses for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) in North America. AMS techniques from Accium BioSciences can be used in bioanalysis, offering super sensitive methods of quantitation. These techniques can be used in the early stages of drug development. The equipment and techniques can be used to help boost patient safety, as well as reduce failure in clinical trials. Hopefully, the AMS technique can be used to reduce costs.
  4. Adimab: Scientists at MIT and Dartmouth developed an interesting technology designed to help pharma companies find effective antibodies for use in drugs, and a company called Adimab was formed around it. The New York Times reported last year that Adimab received some funding from Google Ventures to help it move forward. The idea behind Adimab technology is to find monoclonal antibodies — genetically engineered versions of specialized proteins produced by human bodies — that are most effective.
  5. Navigenics: Originally marketed as a company offering consumer genetic testing, Navigenics is easing off that stance now (at least in New York state), hoping to get approval from doctors. Navigenics insists that DNA testing can be used for health purposes, and offers personalized genetic analysis. It is a company that uses its techniques to help you figure out whether a medication is likely to work for you, and allowing you access to your own genetic information, as well as providing a health profile.
  6. 23andMe: This is another personal DNA testing company that can provide you with information on your family genome, as well as your health. 23andMe is a company that offers different DNA tests that perform different informational DNA testing options, depending on what you are interested in. Learn about your health, fill in your DNA family tree, or even get a complete test. Another company revolutionizing our access to our genetic information, and allowing you to learn more about yourself at the most basic level.
  7. Arzeda Corp: Enzymes are important catalysts in nature — and in our our bodies. Enzymes can be used in a variety of industries and settings to speed up different processes. Arzeda Corp is committed to developing enzymes that provide biocatalysis. Rather than just relying on what is available from nature, Arzeda engineers enzymes, individual designed to the reaction desired. This biotech startup recently spun out of the University of Washington and could provide a revolution in a number of industries.
  8. Targeted GrowthTargeted Growth, Inc.: What if our agricultural products could yield more? That is the idea behind Targeted Growth. This biotechnology startup aims at increasing the yield and quality of agricultural crops. These crops could be used in the energy industry as well. Target Growth is working on different technologies and techniques to enhance the efficiency of agricultural growth, so that we can get more with the same amount of space. It’s an interesting approach to agriculture and energy, and one that could help revolutionize the future.
  9. Chromocell: Focusing on the creation of cell lines and assays, Chromocell plans to use biotechnology to help in drug discovery. The startup’s main areas of concentration are anxiety treatment, pain relief and respiratory disorders. Chromocell works with multi-gene cell lines and works to use related receptors to help determine specific triggers and causes of different conditions. Drug discovery can then take place based on the genes identified. It’s an interesting technological process.
  10. Catalyz: Even though many people are ambivalent about, or even against, stem cell research, there are a number of companies interested in stem cells for their ability to turn into different kinds of tissue and possibly play a role in curing diseases that we think of as incurable. Catalyz is an Indian biotechnology startup that specializes in stem cell therapeutics and in vitro diagnostics. Catalyz has patented technology for diagnostics, as well as process for combining nanotechnology with stem cell research.
  11. UAMS BioVentures: Research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences can be ground-breaking in some cases, and helpful to the world. The goal of UAMS BioVentures is to take the research, some of which results in patented processes and biotechnology inventions, and develop it further so that it can be of wider use to more people. Not only is publicly funded research used to create biotechnology advances, but UAMS BioVentures also works to involve itself with startup companies that can develop different solutions for global markets.
  12. DxSDxS: DxS is actually a part of Qiagen now, as a unit. The biotechnology startup offers an interesting technology that allows for personalized medicine, with special diagnostic capability. DxS uses molecular diagnostics to help health professionals find the right therapies in different situations. The idea is to use personalized medicine to help health professionals find the right drug or other type of therapy specifically tailored to the patient. DxS recently agreed to develop a companion diagnostic for a brain cancer treatment for Pfizer.
  13. Accelerator: This biotechnology startup is devoted to funding its biotechnology companies. Accelerator is a biotech startup that helps other biotech startups. It raises funding for its companies, and helps them spin-off when necessary.

Biopharmaceutical Companies

Pharma is considered part of the biotech industry, and these companies are providing interesting therapies and possibilities for new drug treatments.

  1. LipimetiX: One of the most pressing issues in today’s world is cholesterol. Everyone wants to know how to control it. Enter LipimetiX. This biopharmaceutical startup company is developing a new ligand replacement therapy. The idea is to help decrease the amount of cholesterol in arteries quickly, to help with heart health. AEM-18 is the lead product, and is designed to work on those who are not responding well to the therapies that currently exist. If everything goes well, this should be the next generation of cholesterol drugs.
  2. Rhythm Pharmaceuticals: The idea behind this biotech startup is to develop new and advanced drugs aimed at treating metabolic diseases. One of the main focuses of Rhythm Pharmaceuticals is obesity drugs. With obesity becoming a problem of increasing interest, there are a number of companies looking for — and getting — venture capital money for obesity research. Rhythm looks specifically at peptide therapeutics, and recently raised $21 million for its efforts to continue the research.
  3. North Coast Biologics: Johnny Stine was a scientist working for Icos, and the founder Spaltudaq, and now he’s on to a new biotech venture. North Coast Biologics is Stine’s shoestring operation, as he does not take venture capital, preferring to be wholly in charge of his company. North Coast is biotech startup that develops antibody drugs derived from rabbits. He claims that he has a client offering up front payment as well as milestone bonuses. He keeps his client list secret, but his company could show the way to successful biotech companies without VC.
  4. Zyngenia: The idea behind Zyngenia is to create drugs based on antibodies. These are to be the next generation of drugs aimed at treating cancer and autoimmune diseases. Zyngenia aims to combine the abilities of multiple biologic drugs into one drug, simplifying matters. The technology used by this privately held company is aimed at singular molecular entities that can be a little more versatile than what is currently available. There is a chance that Zyngenia could revolutionize biotherapeutics, especially since it has also received public funds.
  5. GPC-Rx Corp: This is an interesting biopharmaceutical startup specializing in G-protein coupled receptors. GPC-Rx had its technology developed in the laboratory at the California Institute of Technology by the Goddard group. They found it possible to generate 3D structures of G-protein coupled receptors. The idea is to develop drugs that can be selective and operate with reduced toxicity. It could lead to better, more effective drugs, developed from some of the things that we produce in our bodies.
  6. XORI: Apparently chicken cells might be able to aid in the development of drugs for human use. XORI plans to use chicken cells, as well as E. coli to discover and develop monoclonal antibodies. The hope is that these can help with the creation of drugs to help fight autoimmune disease and even cancer — diseases many feel are incurable. The idea is to help validate different drugs as well, helping identify which work, in an effort to reduce costs in clinical trials, and reduce the failure rate.
  7. Anadys Pharmaceuticals: Many biopharmaceutical companies are interested in developing specific drugs, and Anadys Pharmaceuticals is no exception to this rule. Anadys is interested in develop novel drug therapies to address Hepatitis C, which it sees as an unmet need. The company recently completed a test of one of its drugs, and is working to make treatments of Hepatitis C more efficient and effective. The company has a good background in chemistry and biology, something that is not quite so common in biotechnology.
  8. DKIS LLC: Another biotechnology company specializing in Hepatitis C pharmacueticals, DKIS LLC is actually using the disease as the basis for developing a coated viruses. These coated viruses offer a number of different uses, from microelectronics to pharmaceuticals. Russian biotech startup DKIS LLC hopes that biopharmaceutical applications can include vaccinations and delivering targeted agents to specific tissues. DKIS LLC’s process could help to bring a new type of biopharmaceutical into use.
  9. Ablynx: Belgian biopharmaceutical startup Ablynx specializes in the use of nanobodies to develop therapies for different diseases. These nanobodies are derived from antibody proteins that are based on fragments of single-domain antibodies. It’s an interesting concept that could lead to more targeted treatment of different diseases, including Alzheimer’s, thrombosis, inflammation and cancer. Antibodies used today are not generally helpful in terms of treating these diseases, but nanobodies might be.
  10. Genzyme: This biotechnology startup aims at developing a wide range of therapies for different diseases. Genzyme is a company makes attempts to be a global force, with its products and services in more than 100 countries. Some of Genzyme’s efforts include kidney disease, neurodegenerative diseases, orthopedics, transplants and immune diseases. Genzyme also offers diagnostics and other helpful technologies to pair patients with what is likely to be the most effective therapies.
  11. Biogen Idec: This biotechnology startup is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Biogen Idec specializes in providing therapies that are focused on some of the most challenging diseases of our day. Biogen Idec is one of the oldest biotechnology startups around, and tackles neurology, oncology, immunology , hemophilia and cardiopulmonary problems. These areas are challenging, and Biogen Idec works to look for targets that can be addressed in these diseases, state of the art technology and drugs.
  12. Vertex Pharmaceuticals: In an effort to help treat diseases like cystic fibrosis, Vertex Pharmaceuticals looks into developing small molecule drugs. Vertex also develops pharmaceuticals for viral diseases, autoimmune diseases, cancer, inflammation and pain. The idea is to use molecular drugs to target specific conditions and treat them more effectively.

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