Last year when Ryan McBride and I were sorting through our short list of candidates, we both felt that Seaside Therapeutics deserved a spot on the list. The small company had raised a considerable sum of money from a key backer, was collaborating with Roche ($RHHBY) and was nearing what could have been breakthrough human data on Fragile X, an incredibly challenging target.
The trial failed, Roche pulled out and the work came to an abrupt halt. But I don't regret singling the company out--not even a little bit. Honest people in this business can be wrong about what they're trying to do, or how they're trying to do it. The key for me is that there is a passionate and committed team working with a solid scientific understanding of their target disease while trying to achieve an ambitious goal--with enough money in the bank to give it all a serious chance of success.
True, a number of 2012 Fierce 15 companies had big IPOs this year (bluebird and Enanta come to mind among a long list of Fierce 15 companies going public this year) or attracted a buyout (Aragon in a $1 billion J&J deal and Okairos by GlaxoSmithKline for $325 million), but Seaside has every right to be in the group.
This year's Fierce 15 offers some bright prospects from some great biotech minds. You'll find people--like serial entrepreneur and MIT scientist Bob Langer--offering bold if not radical technology from new companies like Moderna, and a whole slate of Big Pharma companies either already jumping in the game or looking to find out more.
Some of this year's crop of biotechs should do fine. Some of them won't. Anybody who tries to pick only winners among private biotechs is destined to fail. What I am sure of is that everyone in this year's group is trying to do something significant about serious diseases. And they stand a chance of doing well by doing good.
That's as good as it gets.
I'd like to thank all the many people who offered nominations for this award. We had what has to qualify as the best set of nominations I've ever seen. And they came from around the world.
On a personal note, I wanted to point out that this is the last time Executive Editor Ryan McBride will co-author the Fierce 15. He's moved on to Novartis, where he'll be taking up a corporate communications job. He's brought some great insights to this report, which will be missed. Damian Garde is moving from the devices group at Fierce to pick up his role in biotech. And he'll be helping with the 2014 report, which starts now. -- John Carroll, Editor-in-Chief. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.