Personalised medicine, which promises to prevent, detect and cure diseases by linking the mechanisms and pathways of illnesses to individuals, will become a reality 'in our lifetime'.
Personalised medicine, which promises to prevent, detect and cure diseases by linking the mechanisms and pathways of illnesses to individuals, will become a reality ’in our lifetime’. This is the view of Steven Burrill, CEO of Burrill & Co, a US merchant bank, who spoke at the EC21 bioventures conference in London at the end of March.
Burrill considers that economic incentive will drive change in the industry and predicts that government organisations will readily pay for a technology that predicts whether a drug will work on a certain person. ’We will see a more information-intensive and predictive way of treating people,’ he said.
The merchant banker praised Mark McClellan, the former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for changing the way that the organisation operates and helping it to understand the important role that pharmacogenetics plays in the regulatory pathway. The biotech industry was excited that the FDA under McClellan seemed to be showing the first signs of getting the industry’s drugs to patients in less time. However, in March 2004, US president George Bush selected McClellan to be the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Burrill now fears that Bush will not rush to appoint a new FDA commissioner because of the forthcoming election. ’In a period of uncertainty this is not helpful to us in this industry,’ he warned.
Burrill claims that the business model of the big pharmaceutical companies is failing and that the number of partnerships with the biotechnology industry is increasing dramatically.
He warns biotechnology companies off initial public offerings, because of city workers becoming more wary of risk. ’A lot of deals won’t get done,’ he said, noting that deals that are currently going ahead are trading near their offer price.
Burrill considers that the increase in the bioterrorism threat will increase government spending on new technologies. He predicts that this money, together with investment by the private sector, will refuel another growth of technology, and that the biotechnology industry will see impressive revenue growth. ’The best years are ahead of us,’ he exclaimed.