University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

UCSF Spinoff Calithera Shows Promise of Translational Research

By Dan Fost, UCSF Science Cafe | July 20, 2010

With innovation as the watchword, a biotech spinoff from the UCSF School of Pharmacy announced a $40 million Series A round of investment last week -- hailed by an investor as "one of the largest first rounds of financing in some time."

Calithera Biosciences, which launched this year out of the lab of Jim Wells, PhD, at Mission Bay, brings a novel approach to killing cancer cells that several major biotech investors see as having the potential to help speed recovery from the disease.

Calithera provides the latest example of cutting-edge research and technology that have originated at UCSF and spun out into companies or industry partnerships, with the intent of having a direct, positive impact on patients' lives. Since UCSF spawned the biotech industry in the 1970s with the launch of Genentech and the discovery of recombinant insulin as the first biotech drug, the University has issued 1,757 biomedical patents and has spun off more than 66 companies from its research.

Those UCSF patents have led the UC system in generating license and royalty fees during these cash-tight times. The UCSF discovery that led to the current hepatitis B vaccine generates the largest royalties of the entire UC system, and the discovery of human growth hormone, which was developed and brought to market by Genentech, is among the top five.

Although it's not the largest UC campus, UCSF has consistently ranked first in the 10-campus system, as measured by total utility licenses issued, total utility patents and total license income. Over the last 10 years alone, the biomedical campus has issued 602 UCSF patents, averaging $64 million per year in license and royalty income.

Read more at Dan Fost, UCSF Science Cafe