Known throughout history for being home to the iconic scene of Hollywood, in recent years Los Angeles has also become a thriving biotech hub, after years of playing second fiddle in the U.S. to the likes of South San Francisco and Boston. In this article, we take a look at five of the best Los Angeles biotech companies around today.
The creation of BioscienceLA in 2018, which has been the innovation catalyst for life sciences in the greater Los Angeles region, as well as heavy investment in the region, has meant that the bioscience sector in Los Angeles is now flourishing. In fact, Los Angeles County is home to around 2,890 life sciences establishments, which provide more than 190,000 jobs.
Furthermore, Los Angeles has three of the world’s most prestigious research universities – Caltech, UCLA and USC – providing a ready-made recipe for success that the region has managed to build on.
Here, in alphabetical order, we have listed five of the top Los Angeles biotech companies that are currently doing innovative work within the industry, helping Los Angeles live up to its new reputation as a biotech hub.
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Led by a team of veteran biopharma executives who have track records of developing and commercializing transformative therapies, Los Angeles biotech company Acelyrin is exploring innovative approaches in immunology, in the hope of making a clinically meaningful difference for patients relative to standard of care.
The company currently has three programs in its pipeline, with a novel interleukin-17A (IL-17A) inhibitor called izokibep as its lead candidate. Izokibep is designed to overcome the limitations of monoclonal antibodies. With high potency and a small molecular size – about one-tenth the size of a traditional monoclonal antibody – it can reach high drug exposure levels through a single, subcutaneous injection. Comparatively, to achieve this with monoclonal antibodies, intravenous (IV) administration is generally required.
Izokibep is currently being tested for the treatment of hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), psoriatic arthritis, axial spondyloarthritis, and uveitis. Meanwhile, the company is also testing lonigutamab – an anti-IGF-1 R – for thyroid eye disease, as well as SLRN-517 – a fully human monoclonal antibody – for chronic urticaria.
Gene therapy platform company Capsida Biotherapeutics is working on the development of a new class of targeted, non-invasive gene therapies for patients with debilitating and life-threatening diseases – both rare and common. It hopes to achieve this through engineered capsids that can target single or multiple organs while limiting exposure to non-targeted organs.
After debuting in 2021 with $140 million, Capsida began with a focus on central nervous system (CNS) disorders, and has since expanded into serious eye diseases through its partnership with AbbVie.
The Los Angeles based biotech company’s therapeutic approaches include gene replacement and gene editing, and are built through a combination of in-house R&D and industry partnerships.
As well as signing a multi-year strategic collaboration and option agreement with AbbVie, Capsida has also entered into other notable collaborations, such as with CRISPR Therapeutics – to research, develop, manufacture, and commercialize in vivo gene editing therapies for the treatment of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Friedreich’s ataxia – and, Prevail Therapeutics – to develop best-in-class, IV-administered gene therapies directed to specific targets that are known to cause serious diseases affecting the CNS.
Los Angeles biotech company Forcyte Biotechnologies claims it is building the world’s most comprehensive dataset in mechanobiology, mapping genomic and pharmacology to mechanical cell function for the first time in order to enable more effective therapies.
Its rationale is that current drug discovery processes do not directly measure cell function, and current discovery models are either not physiologically relevant, not scalable, and only address narrow biology.
The company’s FLECS Platform combines a vastly micropatterned elastomer that isolates contractile function in single cells with a microscopy and computer-vision process for precisely quantifying that contractile function.
Furthermore, the company is in the process of building a preclinical pipeline of potential treatments for complex diseases with multiple etiologies, including lung fibrosis, asthma, and an overactive bladder.
Kite Pharma intends to treat and potentially cure cancer with CAR-T cell therapy. It wants to make cell therapy as accessible and successful for as many people as possible, using science and technology, rapid and reliable manufacturing, and its own unique commercialization model.
Kite’s CAR-T cell therapies are uniquely designed for each patient to harness the power of their immune system to target and attack cancer. The manufacturing process here includes five steps: collecting patient’s white blood cells; isolating and activating the T cells; engineering the T cells with a CAR gene; growing and expanding the number of T cells; and, finally, infusing the same patient with engineered T cells.
The Los Angeles biotech company already has two CAR-T cell therapies approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Yescarta for the treatment of relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma, and Tecartus for the treatment of previously treated mantle cell lymphoma.
Kite was acquired by Gilead in 2017 for $11.9 billion. The acquisition allowed Gilead to revive its revenue growth through a new pipeline of cell therapies, and proved that it can expand outside of its core area of antiviral drugs – which was particularly important after the declining revenue from its hepatitis C drugs at the time.
Xencor says it is expanding the therapeutic boundaries of antibody and cytokine drugs. It is developing a broad pipeline of drug candidates that are optimized to treat patients with cancer and autoimmune disorders, and has more than 20 programs in clinical testing for the treatment of cancer, autoimmune disorders, and infectious disease, as well as further programs in preclinical development.
The company does all of this through its XmAb protein engineering platform. To create the platform, Xencor precisely alters an Fc domain – the stem of an antibody structure – to significantly enhance natural functions and performance, and, in some cases, these modifications can create completely new therapeutic mechanisms of action. Meanwhile, the company’s optimized Fc domains can plug-and-play into nearly any antibody and provide enhanced performance or new structures, like cytokine-Fc fusions.
Xencor’s lead clinical candidate is vudalimab, which is currently in ongoing phase 2 clinical studies in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer and gynecologic tumors. The drug is a bispecific antibody that simultaneously targets immune checkpoint receptors PD-1 and CTLA-4, and is designed to promote tumor-selective T cell activation.