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Lilly opens new biotech center in San Diego

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Eli Lilly and Co. cut the ribbon today on a new biotechnology research facility in San Diego that it hopes will lead to new drugs to treat cancer, diabetes and autoimmune diseases.

The Lilly Biotechnology Center-San Diego will house nearly 200 Lilly scientists. They already were working in San Diego as part of Lilly’s subsidiary Applied Molecular Evolution and Lilly’s division of discovery chemistry research technology. Lilly extended that division to San Diego after its 2008 acquisition of SGX Pharmaceuticals.

The opening comes a year after Lilly completed construction of its biotech research and development complex at its headquarters in Indianapolis.

"The science, technology and talent at our new center in San Diego will help bring novel biotech medicines to patients faster and more efficiently, and reinforces Lilly's commitment and contributions to San Diego's burgeoning bioscience industry,” Lilly CEO John Lechleiter said in a statement.

Lilly has been increasing its focus on biotechnology for the past decade. Of its experimental drugs in late stages of human testing, more than half are biologic medicines.

Lilly’s San Diego scientists have discovered eight of the 60 molecules Lilly is now testing in humans. They have also discovered another four that are in preclinical testing.

Lilly hopes that by housing the two groups of scientists in one building, their collaborations will produce even better molecules in less time and for less money.

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