Moving Quickly from an Idea to a Product

July 1, 2011  source: Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News by Brad Webb

Brad WebbRapid Transition from Laboratory Discoveries to Commercialization Is Transforming Healthcare

It’s been less than a decade since a full human genome was sequenced, but already there is talk that the promise of genomics-inspired personal medicine is not being realized. I couldn’t disagree more. As we point out in this article, cardiologists, psychiatrists, and internists can now order quick and inexpensive genetics-based screening tests to help determine the best treatment for patients with conditions as diverse as depression or diabetes. These days, researchers are actively working on systems that will take the next step, designing specific treatments for specific people based almost entirely on their genome.

Genomics, it turns out, is only half of it. Also at work is Moore’s Law, which has allowed the electronics industry to deliver products year after year that do more in a smaller space and for lower cost.

Combine the two and the result is a new era of personalized, clinically actionable medicine, one in which treatments are tailored to the genetic make up of each individual patient. The resulting care will be more effective, since it abandons a one-size-fits-all approach to medicine. It will also be more economical; genomic techniques help doctors know ahead of time what therapies will or won’t work, putting an end to the days of trying several drugs, one after another, to discover the one that is effective.

Genomic medicine is perfectly in tune with current healthcare policy, which stresses better outcomes at lower overall costs.

The market opportunities, of course, are enormous. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that the core diagnostic and therapeutic segment of the personalized medicine market, made up of pharmaceutical, medical device, and diagnostics companies, is currently worth $24 billion and will reach $42 billion by 2015.

Even greater growth is predicted for the related fields of telemedicine, health information technology, and disease management. Those services are now valued at between $4 billion and $12 billion a year, but could conceivably grow to $100 billion by 2015…

Genomics is fast becoming a crucial part of the medical landscape. For investors, there is a chance to be in at the ground floor of important new markets. Entrepreneurially minded scientists have a chance to take a new idea and quickly determine if it can gain market traction. Patients can look forward to the prospect of treatments that work the first time and can be personalized for their individual medical needs, and society stands to gain from better healthcare delivered at lower cost. Few eras in medical history have been as rich with possibility as the one we are living in now.

Read the full article at Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News including five companies profiled that are emblematic of this new wave of smart, personal medicine.

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