Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Interesting Book on Drug Development and Discovery

If you want to educate yourself about the pharmaceutical industry (and we all should), I highly recommend this book.  The first section of the book is all about recent advancements in biotechnology and offers a (somewhat jaded) view on what the author thinks about big medicine.

Personally, I thought it was amazing because it talked about how the first enzyme replacements were produced.  In particular, it talks about a doctor at NIH that harvested the enzyme replacement for Gaucher disease from human placentas.  He and his team liquefied placentas for 3 years in order to produce enough enzyme for a small number of infusions (like 4-5).  The infusions were given to a very sick 4 yr old child.  Up until that experiment, nothing had been shown to work,  with just these few infusions, this sick child became temporarily well again.  All to vividly, I can imagine how heartbroken the parents felt when the enzyme ran out and they figured out it would take three years to build enough production capacity to produce a steady enough stream of enzyme to actually do a clinical trial.

Reading this book, I realized how far this industry has come.    It may a bit academic or too close to home for some people. If you read it (or have read it) let me know.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Roy, I just ordered the spanish version
    Emilio

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