A God Father of Biotechnology: A Brief History of Genentech

Sipping on a few cocktails at a bar, a venture capitalist and a scientist launch a small company that would change the lives of many patients suffering from diabetes to breast cancer. Boyer a pioneer and an advocate of the new technology in recombinant DNA and Stanley Norman Cohen a scientist from UC Berkeley who believe in the use of restriction enzymes as scissors to cutting and interchanging small fragments of DNA. Boyer worked closely with the Beckman Research Institute, the first to express a human gene in  bacteria. As the team grew, Dennis Kleid and David Goeddel joined Genentech and achieving success in 1978 by expressing insulin.

In 1990 Roche took a majority position in Genentech as they saw the company growing and becoming a world class player in pharma. Genentech drug portfolio quickly expanded when they decided to acquire Tanos in 2006. Purchasing Tanos gave Genentech an opportunity to break in an industry that was meant to treat allergies. From their purchase, the team of Genentech and Tanos created Xolair.  

By 2009 Roche offer $46.8 billion to buy out the other stake of Genentech.

What type of research does Genentech provide?

Genentech has created an impressive portfolio of drugs, familiar drugs that you may have heard are: Herceptin a drug that treats breast cancer, and rituximab a drug that treats arthritis.

Genentech strives to focus on a new emerging fields in science. They closely work with genomic and patient data from 23andMe for hints of new drug pathways. They also work  in silico drug discovery, and checkpoint inhibitors.

Where is the company located?

Genentech is headquarter in South San Francisco but you can find them throughout the world, it has manufacturing facilities in Oceanside, Vacaville, and Hilsboro. It once had a manufacturing facility in Porrino Spain, until they sold the site to lonza. They have a manufacturing facility dedicated in growing bacteria (E. coli… how cool is that!) in Singapore.

As you can see, Genentech has always been a very important company in the biotech world, and it continues to invest in research even up to this date. Despite the fact that Roche bought most of its shares, Genentech remains its own entity and delivers stunning bioresearch that saves millions of lives. Genentech is a success story of biotechnology.