Many of the big transformational technologies set to change the science of medicine are based on single simple concepts. These include stem cells and RNA interference (which is a system within our living cells that takes part in controlling which genes are active and how active they are).
There is another transformational change coming that involves a huge array of technologies related to personalized medicine. There will be huge profit opportunities in many of the enabling technologies for those that are positioned and invest accordingly.
Currently, medicine is, to a large degree a “one size fits all” proposition. Doctors watch for adverse effects and check personal and family histories. Medical technologies, however, are designed for the general population, not individuals.
That is about to change.
We know that many current treatments work on some people, yet not others. Some drugs are safe for many people but have dangerous side effects for others. This is because all of us have individual differences in our genetic code based on heredity and environment. Even slight differences can lead to very different reactions to medications.
This has created serious regulatory problems. Drugs are denied regulatory approval not because they do not work, but because some fraction of the population suffers adverse effects. As a result, we are often denied incredibly effective therapies simply because they are not universally effective.
This shockingly primitive state of affairs exists because, until very lately, we simply have not had the tools to get to the genetic roots of disease. Scientists and pharmaceutical companies haven’t precisely known how a particular drug’s chemical profile interacts with a genetic one. Medical science, in turn, has been unable to tailor drugs to work with a specific genetic makeup.
This is rapidly changing. Just a few short years ago, the human genome was first mapped. The genome is the entire collection of genetic code that defines us at a biological level. Now scientists are studying single genes and their individual expressions.
It is meaningful, from the investor’s perspective, that Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project, was selected by the Obama administration to head up the National Institutes of Health. Collins has long been a prominent champion for using the knowledge gained from human genome to accelerate personalized medicine.
This is important because institutional forces, with lobbying clout, always resist change. Much of Big Pharm, and its regulators, are vested in the “one size fits all” model. Many of the old players fear personalized medicine because it threatens the existing hierarchy. Collins’ presence at the top of the NIH will help counter this institutional resistance.
Incidentally, Collins has stated that genomics is currently where the computer industry was back in the 1970s – at the beginning of a technological revolution. While he was speaking in scientific terms, we should remember that the ’70s was also the right time to begin investing in a diversified portfolio of breakthrough computer technologies. Those who did so, despite claims that it was too risky or early, were made rich.
As a brief side note, we have to be very careful in our push to a national healthcare plan referred to as Obama Care. Canada and much of Europe have squelched innovation in their countries by nationalizing health care. Rather than allowing drug companies the profits they need to fund future medical technologies, government officials are mandating cheap care. If America’s pharma prices and profits are controlled by the same people who run the Post Office and Medicare, it will not be good for R&D. Most likely, the R&D will continue in Asia as at a recent confab of CEOs, most of the CEOs of important breakthrough medical companies indicated they are constantly being recruited by Asian investors who have the blessings of their political leaders.
Let’s get back to understanding the molecular keys to the new medicine.
In Greek mythology, Proteus was the son of Poseidon, who could change his shape at will. From this comes the adjective “protean,” meaning versatile, flexible and adaptable. It is not coincidence that this also describes the proteins expressed by our genes.
By now, the public is somewhat aware of genome progress. Now that the code is cracked, however, we know that it was simply the first step in the process of developing truly personalized medicine.
Though our genome contains the basic information that determines our biology, our proteome is the entire domain of protein chemistry that regulates the structure and functioning of our individual cells. By extension, the proteome determines how each of our bodies function. Everyone’s proteome is unique, because each of us has a unique genome and has been exposed to unique environmental factors.
The human genome contains a staggering amount of information. If it were a book, it would contain a billion words. Yet consider this: Each individual gene can determine the cellular manufacture and function of many, many proteins. Genes are merely the instructions for making proteins. Unlike our genome, which stays mostly the same over time, our proteome is always in a state of flux.
Proteomics concerns itself with these proteins and their interactions. These interactions determine the course of nearly all human diseases. They also open up entire new avenues of treatments and investment.
One important proteomic avenue is cancer chemotherapy. A recent study of personalized medicine by Scottsdale Healthcare showed that when cancer patients were individually profiled at the molecular level, treatments were more successful. Tumors that had resisted shrinkage using several courses of conventional chemotherapy were successfully treated when the patient’s individual genetic makeup was used to customize treatment.
We have already seen big investor successes in this arena. Early investors in Genentech struck gold. Genentech, now owned by Roche, was the first company to develop a targeted proteomic cancer therapy when it brought the breast cancer drug Herceptin to the market in 1998.
Building upon this approach, the next breakthrough technology company in the field of personalized medicine is using nanotechnology to target drug therapies for maximum therapeutic effect.
One such company has a patent protected technology in a toaster oven-sized diagnostic platform that can personalize medicine to the individual genetic profiles. A test by this device typically takes only 45-90 minutes. In addition, the technology is 2 to 3 orders of magnitude more sensitive than the current enzyme-based diagnostic technology. This technology can change the whole diagnostic market by moving diagnostics from centralized labs closer to the point of care, which are typically community hospitals and emergency rooms.
Physically, the diagnostic device consists of a reader, a processor and a cartridge. The cartridges are single-use items that are specific to the kind of test desired. New cartridges are being developed for different tests and are on their way to market. These replaceable components will, of course, produce continuing revenues.
Being simple and inexpensive enough to be used by a typical health care provider, this type of system reduces or eliminates the need to send the samples out to diagnostic testing providers. This eliminates the need for dozens of different pieces of equipment, all of them requiring specialized training.
One small device can do all of it.
This type of flexible diagnostic platform puts this company on track to becoming the IBM PC of the medical diagnostics industry. The behemoths of the diagnostic services industry are as obsolete as mainframes. As new diagnostic tests are created for the platform, it will become ubiquitous in health care facilities all over the world.
This company is a truly transformational company that will decentralize the whole medical diagnostics industry and empowered personalized medicine. It will certainly empower it in hospitals and emergency rooms at the point of care. Just moving from all the Quest Diagnostics of the world to community hospitals is just a huge change. It is game-changing in terms of the business.
Just as the potential of personalized medicine is finally beginning to bear fruit, so too are advances in being able to control our aging process.
As mentioned in a previous post on this blog, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent at CNN, has reported that “Practical Immortality may now be within our grasp.”
So now the question becomes, “how do we slow the rate of aging and avoid the frailty that would make longevity less desirable?”
With antioxidant supplements, we can slow our rate of aging; with a nutrition and fitness routine, we can avoid frailty and improve our health; and with an industry leading home business opportunity, we can make great money and generate financial wealth.
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Happy Reading and Here's to Your Success! Mike Farrell, founder, owner, and operator of aspenIbiz, my portfolio of Internet Marketing companies.
Finally, I want to thank Patrick Cox of Agora Financial as he was the source of some of the materials about the technology advancements mentioned in this post.
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