Thursday, March 12, 2015

Drug Discovery -- In Entirely New Places? "Merck, Do Take Heed."

Well, it is truly a brave new world. How so?

I see this morning that the Stanford University Medical Research iPhone App garnered 10,000 patient volunteers in its first two nights of availability in the App Store (to conduct large cardiovascular studies).

In the old world, to get 10,000 patients enrolled in a CV study, one would expect that it would take over a year -- and well north of $2 million, in expenses -- just to get a CRO to find that many, and sign them to required informed consent forms. . . before even beginning a study. So, even if we may quibble about how perfect a match these 10,000 iPhone users will be -- compared to the overall populations involved -- that it was accomplished essentially for free -- and in 48 hours -- is positively mind-bending.

As if that weren't enough, I just read that my favorite lil' genome-mapping-by-spit company, 23andMe (the Google non-affiliated-affiliate!) has just signed a Genentech executive to begin. . . drug discovery efforts, using the vast database of genomic information the company now holds. I'll note that he must have gotten a release under his non-compete from Genentech, because 23andMe already has agreed to collaborate with Roche (the parent), through Genentech -- using the 23andMe database for. . . you guessed it -- drug discovery. In fact, this same executive apparently spear-headed that deal. Small world.

This is entirely fascinating -- from Bloomberg -- more later this afternoon:

. . . .23andMe Inc., the Google Inc.-backed genetic-testing startup that popularized a $99 DNA spit test, will expand from screening people for diseases to inventing new medicine to cure them.

The Silicon Valley company has recruited a top biotechnology executive to help. Richard Scheller spent almost 15 years at Genentech, heading research and early development at the company that invented pioneering cancer drugs Herceptin and Avastin. He’ll lead 23andMe’s new therapeutics group.

It’s the latest evolution for 23andMe, which went from a seller of novelty ancestry kits to one of the world’s biggest repositories of genetic data, doing business with major pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer Inc. and Genentech. . . .

We will of course keep the readership posted. Much more shortly above now, but this is. . . a potential game changer.

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