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In today’s world of ever-evolving technology, the biotech industry has become a leading source of innovation. With new firms and biotechnologies emerging every day, however, it can be hard to keep pace. In this article, we will break down ten of the top biotech startups from around the world and tell you why they’re relevant in today’s marketplace.
Whether you’re an industry insider, savvy stock hunter, or simply a biotech enthusiast, it’s important to keep up to date on the latest and greatest in the biotech startup space. From pharmaceutical innovations to genetic engineering, biotech startups are a key sector for the future of the world economy. It’s a fast-paced industry packed with some of the world’s best scientific minds and we dug deep into this industry to share a few of the firms that may bring huge advancement to biotech in the near future.
Biotech Startups FAQ
Below are several common questions you may see involving biotech startups.
1. What Are Biotech Startups?
In the simplest terms, biotech startups are new companies within the biotechnologies industry.
2. What Do Biotech Startups Do?
Biotech startups create products that are based on a living organism and systems. Common spheres of the industry for biotech startups are the medical field and agriculture. In both of the markets, biotech startups combine biological innovations with products that can serve a need.
3. How Do Biotech Startups Work?
Biotech startups are frequently born out of significant academic research, or they are split off from previously established biotech firms. Biotech startups commonly start with a signature biotech product and take this product to market after securing necessary amounts of funding. In a best-case scenario, biotech startups can secure sufficient funding to take a product through multiple rounds of research and into the market where they eventually become profitable. This is a famously volatile industry, however, and the historical success rates for biotech startups is mixed.
4. What Are Leading Biotech Startups?
Some most promising biotech startups today are Nightstar Therapeutics, Clearbridge BioMedics, Motif Bio, and Silence Therapeutics. We will cover these promising biotech startups below and go over several others.
5. Where Can You Learn More About Biotech Startups?
A good starting point to learn about biotech startups are the individual company websites. These companies are also a frequent target for risk-friendly investors, and many investment firms provide up-to-date information about the most current biotech startups.
What We Reviewed
Nightstar Therapeutics recently underwent a reboot and changed names to NightstaRx. They are a biotech startup that is working on new products to help with vision correction. Their latest product, which is currently at the third stage of FDA testing, is focused on treating choroideremia. This is a condition that affects the eye and causes degenerative vision loss and can lead to blindness.
The main competition on the market for Nightstar is Spark Therapeutics, and their gene therapy called Luxturna. It is amongst the first approved gene therapies in the US that are used against a specific genetic disease. Nightstar is a step ahead of Spark with their choroideremia as Spark has only reached stage I/II testing for their gene treatment of the condition.
Aslan Pharmaceuticals, led by Dr. Carl Firth, stepped into the biotech startup world in 2010. This firm serves a niche market of cancers common on the Asian continent. In 2018 the made strides on a new flagship product called ASLAN005, which is a monoclonal antibody. This antibody is built on the same foundation as a similar treatment developed previously by the p53 Laboratory at Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research Read.
Aslan became a darling amongst biotech startup invests when it landed $33 million in investment capital and then moved on to score a valuation $300 million at the Taipei Exchange. They are currently headquartered in China and Taiwan, with offices globally. By focusing specifically on the Asian market, Aslan has positioned themselves as a biotech startup wholly dedicated to serving one of the world’s most rapidly growing economic zones.
London is the European nerve center for biotech startups, and Orchard Therapeutics was the bell of the ball last year. They made a huge splash last year raking in £85M (€96M) in series B fundraising. The funds generated through these investments will go towards Orchard’s adenosine deaminase severe combined immunodeficiency (ADA-SCID) gene therapy for kids.
This new treatment will bring a much needed second option to the market as the only other gene therapy for the rare condition is a drug from GSK called Strimvelis. It is only available in one hospital in Milan, Italy. Orchard’s competing gene therapy would allow children born with the condition to receive treatment at home. They also recently cut a deal with GSK to access their gene therapy catalog for a 20% overall equity stake. Orchard still has a ways to go, but with such a coveted product they could make a significant impact this year.
Ayoxxa was founded by the National University of Singapore’s (NUS), Dr. Dieter Trau in 2010. This biotech startup specializes in diagnostics and is specifically working to develop a microchip that can diagnose various diseases with tiny amounts of genetic material such as blood, saliva, or waste. Diagnostics are a booming sector of the biotech startup space, and Ayoxxa is leading the pack.
This biotech startup, which is currently based in Cologne, Germany, also has locations in Singapore and Boston. It’s gained a lot of attention and money since its inception and scored €11.3 million in series B funding in 2014. The firm showed well at the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2010, earning the title as one to the top 50 biotech startups to watch for the future. Ayoxxa’s melding of biotechnology and micro-processing has gained ample attention within both the medical industry and the capital world.
Autolus is a biotech startup specifically aimed at creating a new generation of CAR-T technology. This firm was founded as an offshoot of the University College of London and is aiming to bring this controversial treatment to a stable and accepted place within the medical world. CAR-T has shown promise in some patients with hard to treat cancers but also gained a bad reputation after some patients died during clinical trials.
Unlike chemotherapy or previous forms of CAR-T therapy, Autolus’ product diminishes cancer cells without killing pre-existing T cells. When fully developed this technology could produce consistently better recovery rates when compared with chemo. Autolus raised an impressive $80 million in series C funding last year and will move their testing on to human subjects this year. If Autolus can find sustained success in their testing, this product could revolutionize the decision-making process for both cancer patients and oncologists.
Clearbridge BioMedics is a biotech startup founded by veterans of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology and NUS. Their flagship technology is a microfluidics system that enriches tumor cells to diagnose better and analyze cancer growth. Their research is timely and welcome to the market, as one in three people worldwide is expected to develop cancer in their lives.
Clearbridge has connected with patients in Asia, Europe, and North America. Their technology, known as a liquid biopsy, is entirely non-invasive and creates a new range of options for those in early cancer treatment. They raised $9 million in Series B funding back in 2013, but are also currently getting funding from the National Research Foundation of Singapore. Clearbridge is striking while the iron is hot in the cancer diagnostics sphere of the biotech startup industry.
HistorIndex is a Singapore-based biotech startup that is hoping to revolutionize tissue imaging with their new technology. Their work specifically focuses on tissue biopsies, which can be an invasive process for patients and get mixed results depending on the doctor analyzing results. Within the tissue biopsy realm, they are explicitly working on new procedures for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, which is a liver condition.
HistoIndex recently proved that their technology could achieve at least 95% accuracy on biopsied liver cells compared with 65% accuracy in traditional biopsies. The firm was founded in 2010 by Dr. Gideon Ho, who had previously worked with A*STAR’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN). HistoIndex operates in Europe, the US, China, Malaysia, Australia, and Singapore. They are also partnered with 17 different health and biotech firms worldwide.
Silence Therapeutics leads the European biotech startup field in research of RNA interference. This is a process that disrupts the replication of disease cells at a cellular level. They are the first biotech startup outside of North America pursuing this technology. Their main competitor in this space is an American firm named Alnylam who will hit the market with a similar treatment later this year.
Silence is associated with Quark Therapeutics, who in phase II/III trials. They are specifically targeting acute kidney injury and delayed graft with their RNA interference treatment. Expect little cooperation between Silence and Alnylam, however, as they are in a legal battle of technology rights. With only one other major competitor developing this RNAi technology, Silence Therapeutics could claim significant market share throughout the biotech startup world quickly.
Invitrocue is a publicly traded offshoot of A*STAR’s focused on bridging the gap between animal testing for human treatments, ethical treatment of animals, and improved testing results. Their primary focus is are organoid models which they develop on a three-dimensional platform. They bring this into the real world through organoid models of oncology patients for a new and innovative approach to cancer treatment.
This biotech startup was founded by Dr. Steven Fang and Professor Hanry Yu from A*STAR’s IBN in 2012. They quickly grew into a global presence and had gained much traction in China because of a lucrative partnership with Qiagen Suzhou. Their interaction with the medical industry usually involves aiding with drug screenings and toxicity studies. Invitrocue has covered a lot of ground in their short five-year history and has established themselves as a heavy hitter in the biotech startup space.
Motif Bio is a biotech startup that is filling a desperately needed void—new antibiotics. While much of the biotech startup space is focused on cancer treatment and imaging, recent studies have found that resistance to current antibiotics could kill more people than cancer within 30 years. Thankfully Motif Bio is finding success with their research and is currently in stage III testing on a new antibiotic treatment.
Their flagship product is called Iclaprim. Thus far testing has proven the new antibiotic effective against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and several other potentially fatal viruses without incurring any damage internal organs. If their testing remains positive Motif could see approval from the FDA on Iclaprim within 2019. Investors and biotech insiders have been anxiously awaiting news on this drug, which could have a significant impact on global health.
In the last few decades, biotech startups have truly been at the cutting edge of technologic advancement. Their impact has been most directly felt within the medical realm, but their approach has benefited greatly from recent leaps in technology. The biotech startups in this article show a general trend in the medical industry which is a focus on early diagnosis and prevention.
While advancements in treatments and updates on current drugs like antibiotics are still relevant, the major push amongst these firms is diagnosis and analysis. With products that combine rapid data analysis, ultra-fast analysis with micro-processing, genetic engineering, and tissue modeling, today’s biotech startups are creating the leading edge of medical and pharmaceutical products.
As biotech startups and the medical industry continue to keep a strong focus on early diagnosis and prevention, we can expect to see greater overall health for consumers. And with multiple previously unavailable treatments in the advanced trial stages with the FDA it shouldn’t be long before some of those new treatments become a reality.