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SAN FRANCISCO — The last time Sana CEO Steve Harr was here for the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, his company had only recently shrugged off the unprintable code name its founders used privately: FD Therapeutics, short for “F— Disease.” Little was known about the then-mysterious cell therapy startup, except that it would pursue ideas “that will seem unconnected to the current reality” and, rumor had it, potentially raise an over $1 billion Series A.

Today, Sana is a public company. It did raise prodigious sums, $700 million in a Series A and another $585 million in an IPO. Yet disease — well, disease remains with us.


The biotech’s hopes to be in clinical trials by 2022 have lapsed. In November, it shelved an ambitious program to regenerate heart cells and laid off 15% of its staff. Its stock is down 85%, victim of a cold biotech market particularly cruel to ambitious companies with no human data.

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