A piece of history
It is been almost a year since I joined Eagle Genomics as a marketing assistant. Our office was in the Babraham's Daly labs building. This was the first office I had worked in and was an old looking building. The first thing that I heard about it was that it was going to be demolished soon.
From 1987 to 2011 this used be the doorway through which around 25 companie's employees entered 5 days a week, where they carried out ground breaking research. The companies are listed in chronological order and with some interesting highlights:
Main entrance to Daly Labs during demolition 2011.
And it's gone!
Enzymatix is a proud example of a company incubated at Babraham. Founded by prof. Christopher Evans,a biotech entrepreneur, with initial investment of £ 1.3M in 1987 it was one of the first biotech startups in Europe let alone UK. Enzymatix speciality was in applications of high purity enzymes. Its first sale of 16 lipase enzymes kit for £750 was to GSK and happened in a toilet! At a Pharma conference a voice from a cubicle asked for a sales form, it was filled and given to Chris while he was selling the same kit to Eli Lilly on the phone. Later Enzymatix was acquired by Chiros Ltd in 1992, another creation of Chris Evans which merged with Celltech, and later on it was acquired by UCB in 2004.
Cambridge Antibody Technology 1990
Cambridge Antibody Technology also referred as the jewel in the crown of UK biotech, was based in the Daly labs since 1990 for two years. It was focused on antibody engineering for therapeutics using phage display technology. CAT managed to develop one of the most successful antibody drugs named HUMIRA, used for treatment of various types of arthritis making it a blockbuster drug. In 2006 Cambridge Antibody Technology was acquired by Astrazeneca for £702m, who after purchasing MedImmune LLC, merged them together under MedImmune's name (more info here).
Axis Genetics 1995
A famous scientist named Dr Árpád Pusztai was working for Axis Genetics also known as Cambridge Agricultural genetics. The company started in 1995, it was one of the first to conduct research on the effect of feeding GM Desiree potatoes to rats. The GM potatoes were modified with a snowdrop lectin gene (used in seed germination). After research was done the results were reviled on Granada Television, where Dr Pusztai was claimed to have misconducted the experiment. According to Árpád's findings, the rats fed with GM potatoes grew less and had immune problems. It was claimed that he didn`t actually used the snowdrop gene but a toxic for mammals lectin gene form Jack beans. Soon after the doctor was suspended from further research and banned from speaking publicly by Rowet Research Institute. The potatoes were never intended for commercial use but however this research tilted the public view against GM vegetables. In 1999 the company stopped operating and research data was seized. More here.
Daly labs was home to BioConcepts in 2003. It was a project within Babaraham Bioscience Technologies, the idea of which was to offer a fully equipped biology and chemistry laboratory. It gave support innovation in biomedical fields and speed up the process of early stage concepts and technologies into commercial valued propositions. Later BioConcepts became known as Technology Development Lab (TDL). The lab services TDL provides helped and are currently helping many biotech companies at the Babraham Campus to make their missions a reality.
Horizon Discovery & UroSens 2008
Horizon Discovery set up their operation in 2008. Later in that year Horizon Discovery along with UroSens won the prestigious Medical Features Innovation awards for innovation of cancer diagnostics and treatment. The former company was distinguished with the Best Drug Discovery Technology in the field of cancer and "The Best Business Proposition of the Year". UroSens was awarded with the Cancer Innovation for developing a novel diagnostic tool for bladder cancer. Horizon Discovery Ltd is a provider of proprietary research tools to support the development of personalized medicine. They are currently not based in at Babraham. Urosens used to have its office next to Eagle Genomics in the Daly Labs, now it's located in the new Maia building.
F star 2008
F star, an Austrian antibody company opened an office at babraham campus in 2008. It focus was on lead generation for their Modular Antibody Technology . Prior demolition of the Daly Labs F star moved to Granta Park.
And us of course. We have not moved far. We are now in Meditrina building with this greatly improved view from our window: