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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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January 6, 2010

Five Technologies For the Scrap Heap?

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Posted by Derek

Xconomy has a piece on biotechnologies that look to be headed for obsolescence. I think the list is mostly correct - it includes the raw proteomic approach to understanding disease states and a lot of the biomarker work being done currently. I won't spoil the rest of the list; take a look and see what you think. Note: RNA interference is not on it, in case you're wondering. Nor are stem cells.

Comments (10) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Biological News


1. wei on January 6, 2010 3:00 PM writes...

Are you sure the guy knows the thing he is talking about? "once a drug is approved with regards to its safety profile"

he did not mention RNAi, but he did say "Within biotechnology’s short history, we have already seen approaches from the ’90s such as ..., antisense therapies, are being replaced." i guess antisense therapy is not that different from RNAi, though they are not the same.

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2. DavidQuigley on January 6, 2010 3:50 PM writes...

@Wei: Agreed that they're not the same. I would distinguish between RNAi, a fundamental physiological process that has led to an important cell culture technique for basic reasearch, and antisense therapies, a specific approach to disease treatment.

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3. c on January 6, 2010 4:42 PM writes...

I share the sentiment of Wei. Point 4. somewhat correctly contradicts Point 3.

If a biomarker identifies inefficient use of a drug then there may be an opportunity for that biomarker to be commercially successful. The Oncotype DX assay is clear example; payers reimburse this assay presumably through a contract which creates a net cost saving.

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4. Anon on January 6, 2010 7:28 PM writes...

Note who wrote the piece and the fantastic track record his former companies had.

Also note his current venture. This piece seems just a *little* self serving.

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5. Morten G on January 7, 2010 3:58 AM writes...

@4. Anon
My thoughts exactly. Pretty sure that whatever it is he tells investors that Sage Bionetworks does is pretty much what he says the future will be.
Also on Point 1: GWAS will start to incorporate more information than just SNPs? Well, duh! I don't think they'll stop calling it GWAS though just because it incorporates repeat expansions and such.

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6. Thumper on January 7, 2010 6:31 AM writes...

Re: biomarkers

Though he definetly could have expressed himself more clearly, I don't think he is arguing that biomarkers in general are headed for obsolesence. He is just making a case against their utility for commercial purposes in and of themselves. He indicates that today's biomarkers can be easily supersceded by a slightly modified set that has better predictive power.

I think that it is wrong to say that the technologies he discusses will be obsolete. They will stick around. What will change is how we use them.

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7. Vader on January 7, 2010 11:19 AM writes...

"Pretty sure that whatever it is he tells investors that Sage Bionetworks does is pretty much what he says the future will be."

Um ... why should he advise investors to do something he doesn't think is "the future"?

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8. RKN on January 7, 2010 1:29 PM writes...

I wasn't that impressed, especially his assessment on proteomics. I don't think anyone has said that even if we had the ability to quantify all changes in the proteome (say between control and disease) that this would enable a complete understanding of "all chemical structures" in the cell. Of course not. It's one part of the puzzle, and an important one, which he admits, so why does he expect it to fade away?

Seems to me he's really saying we need systems approaches to integrate these data in order to improve disease stratification at the clinic, and that much I agree with. But a lot of people have been saying this for some time now.

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9. JIA on January 7, 2010 4:08 PM writes...

I agree with #8 RKN - "not that impressed". He sets up a straw man with the proteomics argument, so easy to knock it down.

I actually agree with Friend's point #1 about GWAS, but I would have stated it more clearly as "Full-genome sequencing will replace GWAS". No need to assay for SNPs individually when you can sequence the whole genome and find/ annotate/analyze disease gene variations directly.

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10. coprolite on January 7, 2010 6:32 PM writes...

Derek, I love your stuff but that article is a lot of garbage, especially the protein/biomarker argument. The writer doesn't make a lot of sense, and in truth I don't think we have come close to the potential of protein fractionation and mass spec-related assays. I don't think that guy really knows what he's talking about at all. And dismissing SNPs? I thought that happened years ago.

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