Kite Pharma is worth bn after floating its stock last year.Last summer, Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen pointed to small biotech stocks as one of the sectors where valuations looked “stretched”.In a rare case of Silicon Valley scandal, among the relentlessly positive stories of teenage billionaires and disease-curing apps, 31-year-old Elizabeth Holmes, chief executive of biotech startup Theranos, fell from her pedestal.The bn (£5.8bn) start-up she founded claims it can perform a range of blood tests to diagnose conditions such as high cholesterol, HIV and diabetes - using just a few drops of blood, rather than the multiple bottles currently required.
The hero-worship of tech leaders such as Jobs and Tesla boss Elon Musk has led to books, Hollywood movies and even operas written in their honour - but it also adds a shine to the companies they run.
Genetics company 23and Me had to halt sales of its consumer gene testing kits, when the FDA banned it from telling people they could develop conditions like Alzheimer’s or lactose intolerance in future, without being officially approved as a diagnostics test.
Like Theranos, 23and Me transacts directly with patients – there is no qualified physician-in-the-middle, helpfully demystifying what the blood test or genetic data results actually mean for your health - so the FDA has been particularly wary of the smooth claims marketed by these startups.
Start-up incubators like Indie Bio and Y Combinator are trying to accelerate the drawn-out cycle of science, and bring products to market like a software update - create, iterate, fail, repeat.
Y Combinator’s part-time partner, alumnus and cancer researcher Elizabeth Iorns has expounded a radical idea: “Anybody can do this if you have a great idea.
According to Quartz, more than 60pc of the biotech companies that have gone public in the past two years have either never tested their drugs on people, or have only trialled their safety but not their effectiveness.