Wellcome Trust scores with startup investment in diagnostic company
- Wellcome Trust, the large British medical charity, saw its investment in Blue Earth Diagnostics pay off when the FDA approved its cancer diagnostic Axumin last Friday, Reuters reports.
- In March 2014, Syncona, the biotech investment arm of Wellcome Trust, made a £12.8 million investment in Blue Earth Diagnostics, which was developing a PET imaging agent for men with suspected prostate cancer recurrence.
- The approval of the radioactive injection test is the first product approval for Sycona's investment portfolio.
Medical charities and foundations are behind some of the most important breakthroughs in medicine. Wellcome is a good example, as is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has a $40 billion endowment, making it the biggest charity in the world.
The Gates Foundation also just realized a major return on a pharmaceutical investment, netting a $80 million profit on the sale of its stake in Anacor Pharmaceuticals, Reuters reports. Pfizer recently bought Anacor for $5.2 billion in an all-cash deal.
Another example of a charity which has managed to realize a large return on investment while contributing to medicine is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Starting in the late 1990's, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) invested $150 million in Vertex, helping support its drug development in exchange for a share of its royalties. Vertex went on to develop Kalydeco, which was approved in January 2012 as the first-ever treatment to target the underlying genetic mutations of CF.
Last year, the CFF made $3.3 billion by selling its Kalydeco royalty rights.
The FDA cleared Axumin for use in men with suspected prostate cancer recurrence based on elevated prostate specific antigen levels. Axumin provides imaging for prostate cancer location when those anitgen levels are low.