Individualized Cancer Treatment Coming -- But Only If Underdogs Prevail

July 16, 2014 1:25 AM

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Individualized Cancer Treatment Coming -- But Only If Underdogs Prevail

Decades ago, "personalized medicine" meant "don't give penicillin to the person who is fatally allergic to it." Today, the phrase is shorthand for the ambitious but achievable concept of targeting medications to a specific group of people, based on genetic information, disease progression, biomarkers, and other factors. Still, there's a small but growing force in the biomedical community that takes the notion of "personalized medicine" much further. For them the term is used literally--they aim for treatment options custom-crafted for the unique snowflakes that we are.

The dream of individualized treatment is a non-starter under current economic and regulatory models for drug development. Estimates of how much it costs on average to bring a drug to market--from earliest drug discovery to assembling teams of experts to review pricey clinical trials--range from $1 b...

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