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March 26, 2006
A Word to the Wise About TGN1412
Here is the voice of someone who is under a great deal of stress and is not thinking clearly:
Thomas Hunig, the German professor who founded the TeGenero company, said he still hoped the drug, TGN1412, could be brought to the market.
He said he was devastated that the six men were taken ill but said that he was "not going to give up".
Professor Hunig said: "I do hope TGN1412 can come to the market. This tragic incident does not exclude the theoretical application of TGN1412 some time in the future.
Let me be one of the voices informing Prof. Hunig: there is an almost overwhelming likelihood that his drug will never again come near a human being, much less near the market. Pharmaceutical companies drop compounds all the time that show far less severe side effects than this in rats - a disaster like this in man is the end of the line. That's not to say that the whole idea of a CD28-derived drug is dead (although it's going to be slow going after this), but TGN1412 is not going to be it. Go look for a clinical supervisory board - outside of North Korea, that is - that would allow another dosing in humans. Good luck.
Says Prof. Hunig:
""I don't want to hurt anybody in any way. I don't want to come across as a crazy scientist who wants to save his baby despite the victims he has taken. Definitely not."
Someone needs to point out that he's doing a pretty poor job of not coming across like that. Talking about the wonderful science involved and all the work that's gone into the project doesn't help, either. Arguments about how much time and effort have been spent are irrelevent - that's a sunk cost if ever there was one. And the science is no doubt nifty in the extreme, but our scientific understanding of the drug and its effects is clearly a bit. . .incomplete, which places an upper bound on just how nifty it can be.
I feel like the guy in the Monty Python sketch: Dr. Hunig, your drug has ceased to be.
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