Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

NOV1 2018

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) is the world's most widely read biotech publication. It provides the R&D community with critical information on the tools, technologies, and trends that drive the biotech industry.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 10 of 57 | Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News | NOVEMBER 1, 2018 | 9 apparent in the company's early days. "I founded the company in 2011, when I was in my mid-30s," Dr. Johnson says. "In tech, you're old if you're 35," he points out. In biotech, however, that's not old enough. "I'd talk with investors, and they'd be interested. Then they'd ask how many drug develop- ment cycles I'd been through." The answer signaled the end of many conversations. Dr. Johnson, however, remained deter- mined. He turned to federal grants: "I wrote 110 grants in six years and won 16 of them. That 14% is an average rate of approval for an SBIR, and it generated enough funds to build the core company and begin partner- ing." Ultimately, he generated $65 million in funding through grants and joint projects with Grifols, Novartis, and Merck. As the company matured, the challenge shifted from fundraising to staffing. "The economy is good here in San Francisco. You have firms with hundreds of millions of dol- lars, exciting technologies, and employees who know that," he says. There's a lot of competition for the right people. The lack of enough people with the right skill sets is a common whinge of the tech in- dustry. Dr. Johnson sees through it and takes a different approach. Rather than holding out for candidates with the perfect mix of skills (like many technology companies), he and his team search for people with the right interests and potential and train them. "That's good for their careers and for the company," he declares. Catalyzing Innovation That willingness to create what's lack- ing, whether it's a technology or a skill set, is a GigaGen hallmark. "We can't rest on our laurels. We always need fresh ideas," Dr. Johnson stresses. "Always assume some- one will dislodge you, so always be thinking about what will be the next big thing." For Dr. Johnson, the next big thing is an- other specialty company. "It's difficult to de- velop a company that's active in antibodies, engineering, cell therapies, and immuno-on- cology. At some point, you have to draw the line," he admits. Drawing that line meant forming a new company, GigaMune, to pursue some of the cell therapy applications that are viable but not central to GigaGen's mission. GigaMune, which recently signed a development deal with Massachusetts Gen- eral Hospital to identify novel antitumor T-cell receptors for cell therapies targeting cancer, plans to take the same gritty, deter- mined approach to fundraising as its parent company. GigaGen's next moves, Dr. Johnson says, are to win another partner in an oncology deal next year and to advance some proj- ects to the clinic in the next few years. He's also beginning to think about an IPO, to take GigaGen's scrappy, competitive edge to broader markets. Comprehensive 16-test menu: • Gluc, Lac, Gln, Glu, NH 4 + , Na + , K + , Ca ++ • pH, PCO 2 , PO 2 • Osmolality • Total cell density, viable cell density, viability, cell diameter 265 µl sample volume for all 16 tests Four-minute analysis time for all 16 tests New 48-position osmometer module High-throughput online autosampling with ambr ® 15 or ambr ® 250 Multi-Test Cell Culture Analyzer with Maintenance-Free Sensors On Your Radar GigaGen Location One Tower Place, Suite 750 South San Francisco, CA 94080 Contact Principal Dave Johnson, Ph.D. Founder and CEO Number of Employees 22 Focus GigaGen is a preclinical biotech company that develops antibody- based therapies to treat immune dysregulations. Its Surge technology interrogates every antibody in the immune system and identifies those antibodies presenting the greatest drug development potential. Vital Signs

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News - NOV1 2018