In Talk on Personalized Medicine, Life Technologies’ CEO Explains Shift in Corporate Strategy

10/26/10Follow @bvbigelow

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personalized medicine, Lucier also made some other noteworthy observations:

—”If you have one in five drugs wrong in cancer, and you’re fighting cancer, those of you may have even had that battle, you know that time is of the essence. So the last thing you can have is a mistake, or a trial-and-error approach. Unfortunately, that is the state of medicine today.”

—”Cancer is the right place to start in terms of engineering disease…The way we talk about it today, cancer is a geography, or a location on your body, you know, breast cancer or pancreatic cancer. Actually, the people who are really in the avant-garde of cancer treatment today know that’s not the way you’ve got to be thinking about it in the future. It’s actually by pathway. [For example, in a brain cancer study] it turned out the best drug to deal with the brain cancer was a drug for testicular cancer. It shows that they were actually the exact same cancer. So it’s really about the pathway, or what pathway has been perturbed and mutated, and then you’re trying to do something to impact that…The way we’re going to be thinking about cancer in the future is, what ‘pathway’ cancer do you have—not ‘is it breast cancer?’”

—”The real problem here is the regulatory environment… The FDA is certainly at this point a step or two behind potentially in the science, and certainly has more of a focus on safety and risk mitigation, versus treatment and hopefully advancing therapy. I would love to see a more candid, open debate in society about what risks we’re willing to take for experimental drugs and perhaps give the patients more of a voice in that decision. Today patients don’t have a big enough voice in the ultimate decision. The FDA has no upside. So they’re constantly out to mitigate the downside risk. Obviously the companies only want the upside, so there’s got to be something in between that brings the patient back into this equation.”

—”Our friends down the road at [San Diego-based] Illumina and Life Technologies have certainly been involved in this absolute explosion of knowledge that has taken place in just the last five years. [National Institutes of Health director] Francis Collins likes to say that we’ve learned more about human disease in the last five years than we have in the previous 50 years. I think that trend is actually going to accelerate, not decelerate. The next five years we’ll know more about the association of our genome to the disease than we did in the last 50.”

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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