Based: Cambridge, MA
Why It's Fierce: Infinity has roused intense biopharma interest in its chemistry, developing three-dimensional compounds that are believed to have enhanced capabilities. Novartis, AmGen and Johnson & Johnson have all bought in, injecting $50 million in new capital into Infinity in recent months in order to gain entrÃ©e to Infinity's impressive compound library. The biotech has raised an impressive $135 million in four years. Infinity just started a clinical trial on an experimental oncology drug for multiple myeloma. Under the direction of a research group that includes Julian Adams, who played a major role in the development of Velcade at Millennium, they want to see if the new drug works where Velcade and Thalomid don't. By inhibiting heat-shock proteins that repair damaged proteins, researchers believe they can allow cancer cells to be overwhelmed and die out. Preclinical data for IPI-504 demonstrated a significant reduction in tumor burden for several types of animal cancer. Conforma and Kosan Biosciences are further advanced in this field, but Infinity has a host of backers who believe it can catch up and pass the competition. Other oncology candidates are in the preclinical phase.
What to look for: Look for another big partnership deal later in the year.