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Monday, March 19, 2001

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find related articles. powered by google. BioMedNet UK biotech company focuses on "land grab proteomics"
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"Biotechnology company Oxford Glycosciences is hoping to apply for patents over 4,000 proteins by the end of the year, as part of a "land grab" to corner the rights to promising areas of research. The firm, which yesterday announced a 62% jump in full-year losses to £16.8 million, sells information about proteins to other drugs companies. It has already made applications covering 1,500 proteins which it believes to be associated with disease. Chief executive Michael Kranda said: "We're focusing on land grab proteomics. We're really in a very good position to attack this technology."

Proteins are governed by genes in the body, and their activity is central to the maintenance of good health. Some biotechnology companies are targeting genes in the race to create new medicines but the completion of the Human Genome Project revealed that there are only about 30,000 genes in the body, rather than the expected 150,000. As a result, Kranda said proteins are becoming the new battleground: "There are 300,000 to 500,000 proteins out there. The value is really going to be in understanding the protein world."

Reference: The Guardian, 16 March 2001"
redux [12.16.00]
find related articles. powered by google. The Street Biotech Today, Part 2: Is the Human Genome Land Grab Over?
"For years, Dr. J. Craig Venter has been saying that the human genome probably had fewer than 60,000 genes. Heck, Dr. C. nailed most of them when he worked in partnership with Human Genome Sciences (which said back in 1996 that they'd found 96% of the human genes). Now Eric Lander of the famed Whitehead Institute at M.I.T. --- a man who has had his differences with Craig --- has also come out and said that there are fewer than 50,000 genes in the human genome.

The fact that these words have been on the airwaves for years doesn't mean that most investors have heard them. (The axiom "there are 100,000 genes in the human genome" has been pretty deeply drilled into a lot of our brains.) So at our shop, we've been proceeding under the assumption that the big genome land grab happened years ago but a large number of investors haven't noticed that fact. We also assume that most of what will transpire over the next few years will be lawsuits and cross-licensing: We refer to it as the coming "litigation conflagration."

What I'm thinking through at the moment are the implications: Specifically, how will investors react when a critical mass of them realize there are fewer than 50,000 genes -- and most of them are already spoken for?"

redux [04.26.00]
find related articles. powered by google. Signals Homestead 2000: The Genome
""The analogy that I would use is that of a minefield," said Bob Levy, senior VP of science and technology for American Home Products. "We are spending an incredible amount of time now, when we find exciting targets and begin to validate them, in trying to define who has rights to what. And we're finding, in almost every product that we look at, that someone has patented the protein, the gene, a fragment, a diagnostic test." Levy noted that untangling patent rights, and determining which patents are dominant, are increasingly time-consuming and expensive tasks. And patent-holders must be paid. "The royalties that will be involved soon in some of the products that we are bringing to market, they're already up into the ten, fourteen, fifteen percent [range]," said Levy. "And that may increase with time.""

redux [02.27.01]
find related articles. powered by google. The Financial Times Opinion: No price should be placed on the book of life
"Let me be frank here: my view is, and always has been, that the information in the genome is our genetic heritage and should not be profited from directly. It is not for sale. This is a pro partnership, not an anti-business, stance. We want to ensure that the entire world has equal access to the data, so that the potential health benefits are reaped by the many, rather than the few.

As Prime Minister Blair said: "The knowledge contained in the map of the human genome has the power to touch the lives of everyone on the planet." It is for precisely this reason that our commitment should be for the entire world to use this data so the benefits can be realised by all, and major killers such as malaria, tuberculosis, river blindness and leprosy will not be neglected."
find related articles. powered by google. The Economist Science and profit
"ONCE upon a time, pure and applied science were the same. Sir Humphry Davy discovered seven chemical elements, and invented the miner’s safety lamp. Louis Pasteur investigated the properties of molecules, and worked out how to stop milk spoiling. Everybody thought that was admirable. Somehow, things have changed. Today the feeling is widespread that science and commerce should not—must not—mix. There is a queasy suspicion that the process of discovery is in some way corrupted if it is driven by profit."

"Far from compromising science, profit in both these cases—the development of new medicines and the elucidation of the genome—has animated it, and directed it towards meeting pressing human needs. It is a happy marriage. Davy and Pasteur would surely have approved."

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Bioinformatics will be at the core of biology in the 21st century. In fields ranging from structural biology to genomics to biomedical imaging, ready access to data and analytical tools are fundamentally changing the way investigators in the life sciences conduct research and approach problems. Complex, computationally intensive biological problems are now being addressed and promise to significantly advance our understanding of biology and medicine. No biological discipline will be unaffected by these technological breakthroughs.


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