SAN DIEGO - A biotech incubator in La Jolla is helping create an environment for the next big breakthrough to come from San Diego.
Joe Pogliano has discovered something game-changing.
"A shortcut to finding new antibiotics," he said.
The UC San Diego microbiology professor's technology cuts the search time for new antibiotics from months – even years – down to hours.
However, he needed a place to work, so he and his scientist wife founded Linnaeus Bioscience in Janssen Labs, a biotech incubator in La Jolla.
"They provide everything you need… all the space, all the equipment, infrastructure that you don't even realize that you're going to need," said Pogliano. "I don't think we could have gotten going any other way."
A year ago, Janssen had four startups and they had not even moved in yet. Today, Janssen Labs has grown beyond expectations.
Dr. Diego Miralles came up with the idea for the 30,000-square-foot lab space stocked with expensive equipment for startups and all they have to pay is rent.
What's more, parent company Johnson & Johnson takes no cut from discoveries.
"It's very unusual," said Miralles. "There's no other place like it in the world. The reason why it has no strings attached is because entrepreneurs don't like to be owned."
That could stifle development.
Amplyx Pharmaceuticals, for example, now working on an anti-fungal drug, will go from three employees to nine in about six months.
"Our efficiency has gone up by almost threefold," said Amplyx CEO Dinu Sen.
Janssen has become sought after among biotech startups, but it only takes about 10 percent of applicants. Companies from as far away as Italy and Germany have made the cut and come here.
In just a year, the number of startups in Janssen labs has more than quadrupled, which is why they are expanding and adding a concept lab and extra office space.
After just six months there, Linnaeus Bioscience is already working with large pharmaceuticals to find a new antibiotic that can take on the serious problem of resistant bacteria.
"The next replacement for penicillin which will go on to save countless lives could be discovered right in this room," said Pogliano as he gestured to the small lab space he now uses.
Of course, testing a new drug still takes years.
In the meantime, although there are no strings attached, Miralles said several of the startups have chosen to talk to Johnson & Johnson about working together.