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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Cancer Cures Find Biology-Physics Convergence

The engine of growth is innovation and US is the prime location for innovation. This story is from Bloomberg:

Biologists at MIT, in Cambridge, helped discover the genes that have led to a new generation of so-called targeted cancer medicines. MIT -- like Stanford University in California and Emory University in Atlanta -- now is deploying engineers for the first time to build on those successes. The approach is spurring interest from biotechnology company backers, said Terry McGuire, co-founder of Polaris Venture Partners, an investment company in nearby Waltham, Massachusetts.
``Investors are realizing that a combination of engineering and biology is going to yield greater products,'' McGuire said a telephone interview on July 28.

...The U.S. government will spend $4.8 billion on cancer studies in the year ending Sept. 30, almost twice the $2.5 billion a decade earlier, according to the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. About 75 percent of the Koch Institute's $50 million annual science budget comes from federal grants, said the center's director, Tyler Jacks, in a July 15 interview.

MIT biologists were involved in the original gene discoveries that led to the cancer drug Herceptin, made by South San Francisco-based Genentech Inc., and Gleevec, from Novartis AG in Basel, Switzerland. Herceptin, for breast cancer, generated $4.6 billion in revenue, according to Roche Holding AG, the Basel-based drugmaker that also markets the medicine.

The Koch Institute has an even split of biologists and engineers among the 24 faculty members. By comparison, no more than 5 percent of the 28,000 members of the American Association for Cancer Research, based in Philadelphia, specialize in the physical sciences, said Margaret A. Foti, the group's chief executive officer, in a telephone interview.