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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
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Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Drug Giant Creates Genomics Institute
8 April 1998 6:00 pm
Most drug companies seeking to apply the wealth of data on the human genome to the hunt for new drugs have turned to specialized start-up companies for help (Science, 7 February 1997, p. 767). But one drug giant is bucking this trend. Today, Novartis Pharma of Basel, Switzerland, announced that it is committing $250 million to create its own research institute dedicated to tracking down the functions of the many genes being discovered.
The Novartis Institute for Functional Genomics, to be based in La Jolla, California, should be up and running in 2 years and will be home to some 100 researchers, says neurobiologist Paul Herrling, head of research for Novartis. The company decided to set up the institute, he adds, because it expects to get "a large competitive advantage" if it can efficiently translate genetic information into drug targets. Other biotech experts question whether Novartis's approach is better than linking up with smaller companies, however.
The institute will combine under one roof the various kinds of expertise needed to perform studies of gene function on a large scale. This functional genomics, as it's called, incorporates bioinformatics, DNA chip technology, animal models, and other approaches to pin down the genes that cause human diseases and are therefore prime targets for drug development. "What we want to create is an institute that integrates these technologies," says Herrling. In addition, its scientists "will help develop high-capacity methods" that will speed up and streamline the determination not only of the functions of individual genes but also of how those genes and their protein products interact.
Few companies have tried to build such extensive expertise in-house, because "that model has not been successful by and large," says G. Steven Burrill, who runs Burrill and Associates, a private merchant bank in San Francisco that specializes in life sciences companies. In his experience, the best minds in functional genomics are much more likely to start their own companies, where they can be owners and entrepreneurs, not just employees.