Billionaire biotech investor touts his next Big Thing

Randal J. Kirk made $1.2 billion when he sold New River and its attention deficit disorder drug to Shire. He stands to add to that fortune now that another biotech he's backed, Clinical Data, is being sold to Forest Laboratories for $1.2 billion. But he tells Forbes that all of that success will pale beside the spectacular future in store for Intrexon, a low-profile synthetic biology company based in Blacksburg, VA.

"I've been a biotech investor for 27 years, and Intrexon is by far the best thing I've ever seen," Kirk, 56, tells Robert Langreth and Matthew Herper. Intrexon, he says, will be "the Google of the life sciences" and "the largest, most significant company" in its field.

Of course, synthetic biology has produced more feverish speculation than actual R&D breakthroughs. Reengineering cells or designing brand new ones has the potential to create a new, far more efficient generation of protein drugs or a new source of cheap, environmentally friendly fuel.

But Kirk isn't talking specifics. At least not yet. "If we were in the business of publishing, we could get the cover of Science magazine any issue we wanted," he told the two writers. But so far, Intrexon prefers obscurity.

This may be Langreth's last story for Forbes. He's headed to Bloomberg to become editor-at-large, where FierceBiotech will continue to track his work.

- here's the story from Forbes