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Genentech Inc., a portmanteau of Genetic Engineering Technology, Inc., is a biotechnologycorporation, which was founded in 1976 by venture capitalist Robert A. Swanson and biochemist Dr. Herbert Boyer.[1][2] It is considered to have founded the biotechnology industry.[1][2] One of its founders, Boyer, is considered to be a pioneer in the field of recombinant DNA technology. In1973, Boyer and his colleague Stanley Norman Cohen demonstrated that restriction enzymescould be used as “scissors” to cut DNA fragments of interest from one source, to be ligated into a similarly cut plasmid vector. While Cohen returned to the laboratory in academia,[1] Swanson contacted Boyer[3] to found the company.[1] Boyer worked with Arthur Riggs and Keiichi Itakurafrom the Beckman Research Institute, and the group became the first to successfully express a human gene in bacteria when they produced the hormone somatostatin in 1977. David Goeddeland Dennis Kleid were then added to the group, and contributed to its success with synthetic human insulin in 1978.

As of March 2008, Genentech employed more than 11,000 people and Arthur D. Levinson was the chairman and CEO.[4] The Swiss pharmaceutical conglomerate Hoffmann-La Roche now completely owns Genentech after completing its purchase on 26 March 2009 for approximately $46.8 billion.[5][6]



  • 1 Research
  • 2 Facilities
  • 3 Disputes
  • 4 Products timeline
  • 5 Awards and recognitions
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


Genentech markets itself as a research-driven corporation that follows the science to make new innovations. They employ more than 1,100 researchers, scientists and postdocs and cover a wide range of scientific activity — from molecular biology to protein chemistry to bioinformatics and physiology. Genentech scientists in these various areas of expertise currently focus their efforts on five disease categories: Oncology, Immunology, Tissue Growth and Repair, Neuroscience and Infectious Disease. Genentech recent hiring and acquisitions indicate an intent to expand into Microbiology, Medical Imaging, and Neuroscience divisions. But for a small development group at Oceanside, Genentech’s research facilities are located only on the South San Francisco campus.


Building 32, one of the Genentech headquarters’ newer buildings

Genentech’s corporate headquarters is at South San Francisco, California, with additional manufacturing facilities in Vacaville, California and in Oceanside, California. On March 17, 2006, Genentech announced its decision to construct a new fill/finish manufacturing facility with a distribution center in Hillsboro, Oregon (near Portland) which is expected to be operational by 2010. In December 2006, Genentech sold its Porrino, Spain facility to Lonza and acquired an exclusive right to purchase Lonza’s mammalian cell culture manufacturing facility under construction in Singapore. In June 2007, Genentech began the construction and development of anE. coli manufacturing facility, also in Singapore, for the worldwide production of LUCENTIS (ranibizumab injection) bulk drug substance with licensure anticipated by early 2010.


In 2009, The New York Times reported that Genentech’s talking points on health care reform made it into the official statements of several Members of Congress during the health care debate.[7]

In 1999, Genentech agreed to pay the University of California, San Francisco $200 million to settle a nine-year-old patent dispute. In 1990, UCSF sued Genentech for $400 million in compensation for alleged theft of technology developed at the university and covered by a 1982 patent. Genentech claimed that they developed Protropin, a growth hormone, independently of UCSF. A jury ruled that the university’s patent was valid last July, but wasn’t able to decide whether Protropin was based upon UCSF research or not. Protropin, a drug used to treat dwarfism, was Genentech’s first marketed drug and its $2 billion in sales has contributed greatly to Genentech’s position as an industry leader. The settlement was to be divided as follows: $30 million to the University of California General Fund, $85 million to the three inventors and two collaborating scientists, $50 million towards a new teaching and research campus for UCSF, and $35 million to support university-wide research.

Products timeline

  • 1982 – Synthetic “human” insulin approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), thanks largely to its partnership with insulin manufacturer Eli Lilly and Company, who shepherded the product through the FDA approval process. The product (Humulin) was licensed to and manufactured by Lilly, and was the first-ever approved genetically engineered human therapeutic.
  • 1985 – Protropin (somatrem) – Supplementary growth hormone for children with growth hormone deficiency (ceased manufacturing 2004).
  • 1987 – Activase (alteplase) – A recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (tPa) used to dissolve blood clots in patients with acutemyocardial infarction. Also used to treat non-hemorrhagic stroke.
  • 1990 – Actimmune (interferon gamma 1b) – Treatment of chronic granulomatous disease (licensed to Intermune).
  • 1993 – Nutropin (recombinant somatropin) – Growth hormone for children and adults for treatment before kidney transplant due to chronic renal insufficiency.
  • 1993 – Pulmozyme (dornase alfa) – Inhalation treatment for children and young adults with cystic fibrosis – recombinant DNAse.
  • 1997 – Rituxan (rituximab)- Treatment for specific kinds of non-Hodgkins lymphomas. In 2006, also approved for rheumatoid arthritis.
  • 1998 – Herceptin (trastuzumab) – Treatment for metastatic breast cancer patients with tumors that overexpress the HER2 gene. Recently approved for adjuvant therapy for breast cancer.
  • 2000 – TNKase (tenecteplase) – “Clot-busting” drug to treat acute myocardial infarction.
  • 2003 – Xolair (omalizumab) – Subcutaneous injection for moderate to severe persistent asthma.
  • 2003 – Raptiva (efalizumab) – Antibody designed to block the activation and reactivation of T cells that lead to the development of psoriasis. Developed in partnership with XOMA. In 2009, voluntary U.S. market withdrawal after reports of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.
  • 2004 – Avastin (bevacizumab) – Anti-VEGF monoclonal antibody for the treatment of metastatic cancer of the colon or rectum. In 2006, also approved for locally advanced, recurrent or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. In 2008, accelerated approval was granted for Avastin in combination with chemotherapy for previously untreated advanced HER2-negative breast cancer. In 2009, Avastin gained its fifth approval for treatment of glioblastoma multiforme, and sixth approval for the treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma.
  • 2004 – Tarceva (erlotinib) – Treatment for patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
  • 2006 – Lucentis (ranibizumab injection) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved LUCENTIS for the treatment of neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The FDA approved LUCENTIS after a Priority Review (six-month). Genentech started shipping product on June 30, 2006, the day the product was approved.
  • 2010 – January 8, The FDA announced approval of Actemra, the first interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor-inhibiting monoclonal antibody approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
  • Ongoing Work – Genentech is working on DR-6 blocking and anti-N-APP monoclonal antibodies

as a potential treatment to delay progression of neuronal destruction in early Alzheimer’s disease.

Awards and recognitions

  • Fortune Magazine named Genentech number one on its 2006 list of the “100 Best Companies To Work For.” This was the first number one ranking for the company, which has been on the list for eleven consecutive years. In 2007, it dropped to second place, behind Google, and in 2008 and 2009 it ranked number seven. The ranking is based on anonymous employee responses to a survey as well as an evaluation of the company’s policies and culture.
  • Genentech was named one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008 by “Working Mother Magazine”.
  • It was named as one of the 100 best corporate citizens 2006 by the Business Ethics Magazine.[8]
  • Genentech was named Top Employer by Science Magazine on October 10, 2008, where it has been recognized for seven consecutive years.
  • In March 2008, Genentech was named Most Admired Pharmaceutical Company by Fortune for the second consecutive year.
  • In June 2009, Genentech was named number two on the “Top 100 Best Places to Work in IT” list by “ComputerWorld Magazine”.
  • In December 2008, Glassdoor.com rated the Genentech CEO Arthur D. Levinson as the “nicest” CEO of 2008 with a 93% approval rating.[9]

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