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April 19, 2007
Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom
If you want to see a bunch of press releases from biotech companies that you've never, ever heard of in your life, just go over to Google News and type in "AACR", sorting by date. That meeting just wound up, and it was the usual fiesta of early- and late-stage oncology data.
But cancer is an odd field for drug development. There are (relatively speaking) many more targets, since the disease itself is a huge fragmented bunch of different indications. And we don't have nearly enough knowledge to have a good idea - any idea, most of the time - about which of these targets are more likely to work, and against which forms of cancer. The trials themselves tend to be smaller (thus cheaper), since the course of the disease is often so relentless, and if you get a drug to market, you don't have to take out ads on the Super Bowl to promote it to oncologists.
All that means that the entry barrier to the field is lower, and there are plenty of niches. And boy, are they filled by a lot of microscopic companies. I keep up with things fairly well, but there are outfits presenting at AACR that might as well be from the asteroid belt for all I know about 'em. . ..
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