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What Makes a Successful Biotech?

How does it feel to have co-developed the most successful drug in the world? This is something Jane Osbourn, now Chair of the Board at UK cell therapy biotech Mogrify, knows only too well. 

Early in her career, Osbourn was working as a postdoc in Cambridge and was persuaded to join a small, and at the time quite unknown biotech called Cambridge Antibody Technology. Almost 10 years later, the company’s antibody drug Humira — now the world’s best selling drug — was approved by the US FDA to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

The success of Cambridge Antibody Technology attracted the interest of big pharma. In 2006, AstraZeneca bought the company, which it merged with another acquisition, a US company called MedImmune, in 2008. Osbourn decided to stay on at the company and was site leader of the Cambridge branch of MedImmune until earlier this year.

What attracted you to a career in biotech?

I was doing a postdoc in academia in cardiovascular disease and I was quite enjoying that, but it was a competitive environment. It didn’t quite feel like we were working on big problems jointly. Everyone was doing good work, but it felt a bit fragmented. I did a couple of years of that and got some papers out of it, but I just felt it would be nice to be in a more integrated team.

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