Fierce 15 Winner

Based: San Diego
Founded: 2002
Website: www.targegen.com

The Scoop: "An efficient R&D approach along with technology that carries the promise of broad applicability, TargeGen has been racking up awards for good reason."

What makes it Fierce: It's been a long, fruitful road for Peter Ulrich since his days as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Forward Ventures. Today, Ulrich can point to a company with a Phase II trial underway--an eyedrop therapy for macular degeneration--with a separate development program underway for blood cancer. Last summer, the FDA put TG100-115 on its fast track. And earlier this year Phase I for TG100801 wrapped on track.

So far, TargeGen has raised more than $100 million in venture capital. The awards have kept coming as well: UCSD Connect Most Innovative Product of the Year Award in 2004, the 2007 James D. Watson Helix Award in the private company category and an Entrepreneur of the Year award for Ulrich from Ernst & Young last year.

Its development program is based on early research into an Src kinase inhibitor which could prevent edema, or leakage from blood vessels. And they're working on a radically new approach that relies on eye drops to replace injections directly into the eye. A total of 13 chemists work at TargeGen, but the company also works with chemists at WuXi Pharma Tech in Shanghai. The China strategy is more about scientific flexibility than saving money, says the CEO. If the company needs 30 scientists to hit a task at a particular juncture, WuXi can provide the extra talent immediately.

"We operate from a fundamentally different development approach," says Ulrich. "We get compounds from design to in vivo validation faster than just about anybody else out there."

What to look for: TargeGen can count 20 disease categories that its technology could apply to. Its VC rounds has given the company a high valuation in the world of private biotech. And in two years, says Ulrich, "we will have been acquired, gone public or both."


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