Genentech (NYSE:DNA) was one of the pioneering biotech companies of the 1970s, and even now it exhibits the sharp edge of a gutsy upstart. This year has been outstanding, with major drugs -- including Avastin for breast and lung cancer and Tarceva for pancreatic cancer -- winning approval.

Yesterday, Genentech announced even more good news. Patients suffering from the "wet" variety of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) were treated with the drug Lucentis, and Genentech's clinical results showed that about 95% of the patients noticed improved or maintained vision. AMD is the most common form of blindness for people over 50.

Because of the successful results, Genentech is not going to conduct another trial; it will go straight to the Food and Drug Administration for approval.

This was certainly bad news for the competition, especially Eyetech Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:EYET), whose stock plunged 45% to $12.95.

In a marketing partnership with Motley Fool Inside Value pick Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), Eyetech got approval last year for its own wet-AMD drug, Macugen. However, its clinical results were not as rosy as Genentech's. Essentially, Eyetech's solution stops deterioration; it does not improve vision.

In fact, a Morgan Stanley analyst downgraded Eyetech and indicated that its drug went from being a billion-dollar blockbuster to roughly a third of that amount.

So far this year, Genentech has had five positive clinical trials. As a consequence, the stock has soared -- it's up by more than 70% since mid-March.

Culturally, Genentech is known to have an unstructured environment. It seems to be leading to incredible innovations. Now, the challenge will be to commercialize the scientific success, which means taking a more structured approach and building a platform that can effectively manage a pipeline of blockbuster drugs.

A corollary point to consider is that Roche owns 56% of Genentech, which has developed the blockbusters Avastin and Tarceva in conjunction with Roche. Under international accounting standards, this equates to a big notch in Roche's belt, since the company includes Genentech results in its consolidated financial statements. The prospect of another blockbuster is even sweeter for Roche. It makes the company the envy of its peers. Other pharma juggernauts are attempting to contend with waning pipelines over the next three to five years and the threat of generic drugs that offer comparable benefits at lower prices.

Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares of companies mentioned in this article.