[caption id="attachment_24685" align="alignright" width="288" caption="BioMarin recently leased 20,000 square feet on Wood Hollow Drive in Novato."][/caption]
NOVATO and SANTA ROSA -- BioMarin Pharmaceutical, the Buck Institute for Age Research and TriVascular are expanding research, products and staff.
Each has innovative products either on the market or under development, with a healthy cushion of capital for future growth.
BioMarin (Nasdaq: BMRN), the developer of enzyme-based therapies for rare diseases, hired 100 employees in the last year, growing its Novato headquarters staff to more than 700.
"We've been acquiring buildings, and we're currently spending $60 million to double our manufacturing capacity," said CEO Jean Jacques Bienaime.
The manufacturing operation, with the current capacity to turn out $500 million worth of product a year, is bulking up in anticipation of FDA approval of the third iteration of BioMarin's flagship product for the treatment of mucopolysaccharidosis.
"If our new treatment is approved by the FDA, it could be on the market by 2013 and be our biggest product," said Mr. Bienaime.
BioMarin is flush with cash; as of June 30 of this year, it reported cash, cash equivalents and short- and long-term investments totaling $455.4 million.
In June the company leased 20,000 square feet on Wood Hollow Drive in Novato, freeing up space in its eight-building campus on Bel Marin Keys for research and development. About 30 administrative employees will initially make the move across Highway 101 to the new location.
Wood Hollow has the advantage of closer proximity to the Buck Institute, with which BioMarin interacts in educational and research programs. The two just entered a research collaboration to evaluate therapeutic approaches for treatment of early onset Familial Alzheimer’s Disease.
The Buck is also in expansion mode, growing its staff by 43 over the last 12 months, according to news and public information officer Kris Rebillot.
Six of the new employees are post-doctorate researchers funded with grants from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Significant grants from CIRM have enabled some of the Buck’s growth. Choosing the institute as a stem-cell training and research center, it put in $4.7 million toward a new stem-cell laboratory and $20.5 million to build a 65,709-square-foot building to house a CIRM Center of Excellence.
That construction, scheduled to be completed in July of 2011, will employ about 200.
The Buck’s staff of researchers is distinguishing itself with breakthrough discoveries. The laboratory of Dr. Xianmin Zeng just announced it successfully used stem cells to treat rats who have Parkinson’s disease, and also developed a protocol that can be used to manufacture the type of neurons needed to treat the disease.
In Sonoma County, TriVascular is adding 15 jobs every two weeks in anticipation of the overseas release of the Ovation stent graft for abdominal aneurisms. The company currently employs 250 full-time workers and another 108 temporary staff.
Staffing is also taking place in TriVascular’s European offices.
Clinical trials in Europe are showing outstanding results; the company is almost certain to hold a leading position in a predicted $2 billion global market.