Companion Diagnostics – Partnering for Personalized Medicine

September 15, 2010 · 3 comments

Industry Insights from Paul Meade, M. Sc, MPH

When the Human Genome Project was finally completed with the mapping of the genetic sequences of our DNA, there were many predictions about how the face of medicine would change forever. We would finally figure out how to cure diseases linked to genetic aberrations, find ways to enhance our interaction with the environment, and develop medicines that are tailored to fit our unique genome. But a decade later, we are all aware of just how painfully slow progress has been to date. However, one area that is advancing steadily is the use of companion diagnostics.

Everyone was quick to point to Herceptin and the prototype example of a diagnostic test that was required to be use prior to prescribing this chemotherapeutic agent for women with breast cancer that over-expressed the HER2/neu gene. But now there are more examples of such companion diagnostics, and the list continues to grow.

What does all this mean for the future of medicine, and the interaction among the diagnostic and biopharmaceutical companies? When we can go to a physician’s office, be correctly diagnosed, and then given a medicine to take knowing in advance that we will have a high probability of responding, without suffering from annoying side effects, then we will have personalized medicine.

Does that mean that people will have ... read more »

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Ethics of Gene Therapy to Dominate Healthcare Landscape for Years to Come

June 3, 2010 · 1 comment

Industry Insights from Paul Meade, M. Sc, MPH

During my recent studies for an ethics certificate, I encountered several ethical issues that stimulated my thinking about the future of healthcare.

I would like to address an ethical issue that I feel will dominate the healthcare landscape for the next several decades, in the area of genetics.

With the completion of the Human Genome Project and the mapping of mankind’s blueprint of life, we are beginning to gain a greater understanding of what makes us human. One logical extension of this “knowledge of life” is the ability to control or manipulate life itself. Gene therapy will give us the ability to not only modify our genetic predisposition to diseases, but also to enhance lifestyle abilities. No one would argue the ability to change one base-pair and eliminate Huntington’s disease from an unborn child, but how far is one willing to go to be taller, more athletic, have a gift of music, or become a genius. Who will decide what genetic alterations are acceptable to a society? And who will qualify to have such manipulations—only those that can afford to pay?

The ability to manipulate our genome is the ability to control human evolution itself. No more will we need to rely on random chance and Darwinian principles, such as natural selection–we will be able ... read more »

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Personalized Medicine Shaping Pharma's Future

May 25, 2010 · 1 comment

Industry Insights from Paul Meade, M. Sc, MPH

I have spent the last 30 years directly or indirectly involved with the pharmaceutical industry. I worked for two international pharmaceutical companies and have advised many other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies over the past few years. So I undoubtedly have a biased view in favor of this industry and its aims to promote health while making a reasonable profit for its research efforts.

While I can appreciate all the activities undertaken by pharmaceutical companies to develop medicines to improve the health of people throughout the world, I can also understand why many people have a jaded view of these companies. The perception that pharmaceutical companies take advantage of sick people and make them pay high prices for medicines to make them better is one that prevails among many societies. Yet, through the invention of antibiotics to control infectious diseases, and vaccines to prevent many childhood diseases, and many other products for a variety of diseases, the pharmaceutical industry has made significant improvements to healthcare. In addition to the high cost of medicines, few people realize that the total cost of pharmaceutical products as a portion of the total healthcare spending in the United States is less than 10%. Yet, many people believe that medicines are far too expensive.

Pharmaceutical companies, for the most part, ... read more »

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Post-Reform Jitters: Opportunities for Positive Change in the Healthcare Industry

May 19, 2010 · 1 comment

Industry Insights from Paul Meade,  M. Sc, MPH

With all the players in the healthcare field scrambling to understand just how the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is going to impact their livelihood, it is no wonder everyone has “Post-Reform Jitters.” A new report has just been published by PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute titled, “Health Reform: Prospering in a Post-Reform World,” which suggests that everyone is going to have to work together nicely and all get along.  This is, undoubtedly, an interesting concept, since the healthcare industry has spent the last hundred years fragmenting and segmenting care delivery. In fact, health care in the United States has become a system of silos and fiefdoms with so many intermediary players all attempting to “carve out” their respective niches and take their fair share of the profits that healthcare costs have become the proverbial runaway train. So why are we so worried?

We can sum up the impact of this new healthcare reform in two words: accountability and transparency. To effectively integrate healthcare back into a manageable, efficient system, the players are certainly going to have to get along and play nicely, as suggested by the PWC report. But more importantly, those who play in the healthcare game are going to have to be more accountable to those receiving the ... read more »

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The Thought Leaders Driving Thought Leader Select: A Blog Series—Dr. Maher Noureddine

April 15, 2010 · 1 comment

Dr. Maher “Max” Noureddine joined Thought Leader Select as its chief scientific officer in 2007, after a two-year stint as a senior research fellow in molecular genetics at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences/National Institutes of Health (NIEHS/NIH). Prior to his time at the NIEHS/NIH, Max conducted post-doctoral research in Parkinson’s disease at Duke University Medical Center from 2002-2005.  In 2002, Max earned a PhD in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During his career, Max has co-authored 13 published research studies and presented his research findings at 13 conferences.

The Thought Leader Select Blog recently sat down to catch up with Max Noureddine and learn about his background and how he makes his professional contribution to the work of Thought Leader Select.

TLS Blog:  Thanks for agreeing to an interview with your busy schedule, Max. Why did you join Thought Leader Select in 2007?

Max:  I was at a critical juncture of my career, finishing up my post-doctoral work at Duke in the field of Parkinson’s disease. Basically, I was weighing up my career alternatives, which normally would mean that someone with my academic and scientific background would head straight into university teaching and research.

I had gotten to know Paul Meade, the founder of the company, since we were both pilots in the Civil Air Patrol together. ... read more »

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