19 Bay Area Biotechs to Watch at BIO’s Investor Forum This Week

Meet 7 Bay Area Scientists Changing the Face of Biotech

October 18, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

SAN FRANCISCO – With the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s investor forum on us, the San Francisco Business Times laid out 19 companies that investors should take note of as the conference gets under way.

1. Annexon Biosciences

As companies push forward in the quest to find an Alzheimer’s disease therapy, the products being developed by Annexon could play a role in treating the debilitating disease, as well as other neurodegeneration ailments such as glaucoma and Huntington’s disease. The company is focused on the C1q protein that when it works correctly, rids the brain of dead cells or bacteria. The company has plans to begin clinical trials in 2017 of its C1q-inhibitor drug candidates, the Times said.

2. Arcus Biosciences

New immuno-oncology startup Arcus Biosciences has scored an impressive $120 million funding in two financing rounds earlier this year. The company, which has remained in stealth mode, is initially developing drug therapies for small molecules along the ATP-adenosine pathway; CD73, CD39 and the A2A receptor. Its lead candidate is expected to be from the CD73 program, with the A2A program slated to be the second candidate in the clinic.

3. Asterias Biotherapeutics

Asterias is developing oligodendrocyte progenitor cells derived from embryonic stem cells to stimulate the growth of new nerve cells around the spine for patients who have had injuries to the spinal cord. The Times noted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has greenlit the company’s use of 20 million cells in its next round of study.

4. Audentes Therapeutics

Bay Area-based gene therapy development-company Audentes is developing gene therapy treatments for X-Linked Myotubular Myopathy. The company went public earlier this year and raised $75 million in its IPO.

5. Calico

Google ’s anti-aging biotech company Calico is focused on the development of products and technologies that can extend and control one’s lifespan, as well as target age-related diseases, such as cancer and neurodegeneration. The company has struck several collaborative agreements in its anti-aging pursuit, including a 2014 partnership with Illinois-based AbbVie to reverse engineer the biological aging process in people.

6. Calithera Biosciences

The company is developing aglutaminase inhibitor to shut down energy sources for cancer cells. The company has four ongoing clinical trials.

7. Caribou Biosciences

Caribous is blazing a trail in the gene-editing field with its CRISPR-Cas9 technology. In June, Caribou netted $30 million in Series B financing. Caribou said the funds will be used to enable the company to expand its CRISPR gene editing technology platform and “accelerate our efforts in highly promising application areas in agriculture, therapeutics, biological research, and industrial biotechnology.” Last year Caribou raised $11 million in Series A funding. Gene therapy essentially transforms cells inside a patient to harness their immune system to fight an invading disease on its own. CRISPR-Cas9 is considered revolutionary technology.

8. Cell Design Labs

The company is developing “cellbots,” as the Times describes them,” to turn a cell into a T cell manufacturer and fight diseases such as cancer. The company expects to enter trials in 2018, the Times said.

9. Denali Therapeutics

Denali Therapeutics launched May 14, 2015 to tackle neurodegenerative diseases, including forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. The company was founded by three former Genentech executives, a company that is also looking to make headways in neurodegenerative treatments.

10. EpiBiome

The company aims to develop treatments for multi-drug-resistant bacteria.

11. FLX Bio

Backed by a Celgene investment, California-based startup FLX Bio nabbed $50 million in Series B financing to push its early stage cancer drug through early trials. FLX’s FLX925 is a selective inhibitor of FLT3 and CDK4/6 and is being studied in a proof-of-concept study in patients with acute myeloid leukemia. The drug is moving into a Phase I clinical trial. FLX925‘s dual-inhibitor action may be more effective in treating FLT3-mutated AML than other FLT3 inhibitors, resulting in greater clinical benefit.

12. Forty Seven Inc.

The company has had positive results from preclinical trials regarding tis Hu5F9-G4 humanized monoclonal antibody that was effective in eliminating cancer cells in multiple types of tumors, the Times said.

13. Gritstone Oncology

The company is focused on developing cancer-fighting therapies based on tumor-specific neo-antigens to treat non-small cell lung cancer.

14. Guardant Health

Guardant Health has raised $200 million to fund its blood biopsies, which uses a blood draw to collect DNA shed by tumors, the Times said.

15. Kezar Life Sciences

Kezar raised $23 million in Series A funding and advanced is KZR-616 candidate into Phase I trials for a regulator of protein degradation.

16. Myovant Sciences

Launched in February, Myovant has two drugs in the clinic—one to control heavy menstrual bleeding in women with uterine fibroids and a drug to target female infertility. The company plans to go public and is seeking to raise $172.5 million in its IPO, the Times said.

17. Ocera Therapeutics

Ocera is developing treatments fir hyperammonia and acute encephalopathy.

18. Sutro Biopharma

Sutro has been collaborating with Celgene and received two milestone payments for work on an undisclosed preclinical project, the Times said.

19. Tizona Therapeutics

A cancer immunotherapy company, Tizona has raised $70 million in funding. The company is developing therapies targeting the CCR4 protein in hopes of impacting early tumor progression.