Monday, March 14, 2016

How to name your biotech startup properly

From STAT:
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, named after a star in Orion’s belt. “It marks the strength of our vision, and gives our effort a clear association with something that’s up in the sky,” said Chief Executive John Maraganore.

However, the Cambridge company did what many in the industry do: they tweaked the spelling, from Alnilam (the star) to Alnylam, to help it stand out to investors, in Google searches, and in trademark filings.

The word Alnylam derives from Arabic — it means “string of pearls” — and in this, too, the company’s name is illustrative of a larger industry trend: Names drawn from words in Latin, Greek, or other foreign languages.

Avak Kahvejian, who helps build life science startups at Flagship Ventures, said “one of the tricks” he uses is to run English words associated with his companies’ technologies through an online translator. That’s how he named his most recent startup, Cambridge-based Rubius Therapeutics, which launched in December to engineer red blood cell-based drugs. (Rubius means “red” in Latin.)
The article also touches on a company working in the CD47 receptor space that decided to go a much less romantic naming route: Forty Seven Inc.