The Age of Personalized Medicine Has Arrived
I had the pleasure of attending the Burrill Personalized Medicine Meeting in San Francisco last week. G. Steven Burrill, the CEO of Burrill and Company, which organizes this annual meeting, has been a passionate advocate for personalized medicine for years. In addition to
organizing his own annual conference on personalized medicine, Mr. Burrill also sits on the BioNJ Diagnostics and Personalized Medicine Committee, of which JFK Communications is a founding member.
While the field of personalized medicine has been developing for some time, what was clear at this year's Burrill conference is that the age of personalized medicine has truly arrived. We're now seeing first, second and third generation personalized medicine companies successfully developing and commercializing their products. Companion diagnostics are a standardized part of the drug development process, and more drug companies are planning their development programs to include these important tests to ensure the clinical and commercial success of their new drugs.
Yet the field of personalized medicine is not without its critics. Some of this criticism is due to bad research covered in mainstream media, and some of it is due to reports of investigational technologies that failed to deliver on their promise. Academic fraud is an unfortunate and damaging occurrence that sadly occasionally happens in many areas of scientific research. In this case, it gave critics of personalized medicine ample ammunition to justify their criticism. As far as new theranostics that upon close scrutiny didn't turn out to provide clinical utility, how many drugs have never seen the light of day because they just didn't work, or even worse, had harmful side effects? Does this mean that the entire field of drug development is a failure? Of course not. The laws of innovation dictate that many technologies and therapeutics will fail before one is found that succeeds. That's just part of research and development, and that's a risk that diagnostics and personalized medicine companies have to accept if they want to do business, just like their counterparts in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.
The participants at the Burrill conference, who included global leaders from academia, life sciences companies, advocacy groups and the investment community, were bullish on the current state and future potential of personalized medicine, as am I. Today companies such as Genomic Health, Myriad Genetics and CardioDx, to name just a few, are successfully commercializing clinically validated technologies that are saving people's lives every day, improving the delivery of care and helping patients and physicians make informed, personalized treatment decisions. These companies, and others like them, are delivering on the promise of personalized medicine. And as we continue to exponentially accelerate our ability to interpret and apply our understanding of the human genome to personalized medicine, I believe these success stories are just the beginning.
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