ddn dissects current cancer craze

Business deals and agreements associated with cancer research are plentiful these days, and this month, ddn’s editors and writers give you several examples of the latest oncology-related acquisitions, mergers and partnerships to be signed in this burgeoning area of pharmaceutical and biological research.

Amy Swinderman
Celgene and Abraxis; The Koch Institute andOrtho-McNeil-Janssen; Aeterna Zentaris and Almac; Signature Diagnostics andAffymetrix; Emerald BioStructures and FORMA Therapeutics—business deals andagreements associated with cancer research are plentiful these days, and thismonth, ddn's editors and writers giveyou several examples of the latest oncology-related acquisitions, mergers andpartnerships to be signed in this burgeoning area of pharmaceutical andbiological research.
 
 
The companies involved in these agreements are located anddo business across the globe, from some of the leading academic institutions inthe United States to the green hills of Northern Ireland. The agreements carryprice tags from several hundred thousand dollars to a few billion—yes,billion—dollars. The deals also involve many facets of oncology research, frompreclinical drug discovery to the technology used to conduct cancer-relatedexperiments. Despite their diversity, these pacts have one thing in common—theyall seek the holy grail of cancer research: better diagnostics, more effectivetreatments and perhaps most of all, a cure.
 
It's no surprise that cancer research is perhaps the fastestgrowing disease area of exploration. According to a recent report by marketresearch firm MarketsandMarkets, 2008 saw almost 12 million patients diagnosedwith cancer. Despite increasing technological advancements and research, deathdue to cancer claimed about 8 million people in 2008.
 
It's therefore no coincidence that beginning with thisissue, ddn will examine trends in theoncology research market in a multi-part series that will stretch into the endof this year. This month, we take a close a look at companies that areintegrating various approaches to identifying potential cancer treatments, frommetabolomics to small-molecule drug discovery to biomarker development, andbeyond. We also report on some of the latest genetic technologies and molecularapproaches to studying cancer.
 
In the coming months, we'll examine the explosion of thepharmacogenetics market; where funding for cancer research comes from and whereit goes; which types of cancer are the focus of most research efforts;collaborative efforts involving industry and academia; and much more.
 
 
When our series is completed later this year, we hope we'llhave provided you with a time capsule of the oncology research market, one thatshows where we've been, where we are and where we're headed. If you areconducting research in this growing segment, making groundbreaking progress inthe treatment or diagnosis of cancer or developing the tools to make thesebreakthroughs happen, we would like to hear from you. Please e-mail DavidHutton, our senior editor, at hutton@drugdiscoverynews.com, to lend your voiceto the series. Please help us tell your story.
 
Cheers & Jeers
 
Jeers … to LeBron"Taking My Talents to South Beach" James, basketball phenom and formerCleveland Cavalier, who officially announced July 8 that he will compriseone-third of some sort of "NBA dream team" (in his mind, anyway) on the MiamiHeat. I received a lot of fan mail from readers after my June column, "We areall witnesses to failure and success," which envisioned a world where we focusour time, energy and talent on things that evoke necessary change, not ontrivial matters like the mass hysteria surrounding James' decision on where towear sneakers to work and play a game for a living. While I'm sure thesestatements seem bitter and vitriolic, I don't mourn the loss of James inCleveland, despite his many community contributions, because as I stated in myprevious editorial, it's "hardly the stuff of which a stable economy, respectedacademic community and competitive workforce is made." Instead, I jeer Jamesfor the inane PR gaffe that was "The Decision," his hour-long, narcissisticspot on ESPN, where, without so much as a "thanks for the support, Cleveland,"he let his intentions be known. Everyone from sports journalists to current NBAofficials and some of the sport's most respected players have questioned thestate of a league in which such behavior is condoned. "But things are differentnow," say people like Michael Jordan. The only difference I see is that thereare some very short-sighted, out-of-touch public relations professionals whoconsistently roll the dice on public perception, too blinded by dollar signsand short news cycles to understand the impact that class and grace can have ona person's career or even an entire industry. Shame on them.
 
Cheers … to the PRprofessionals in this industry who protect their clients' good name and makethem accessible to people like us at ddn. You know who you are.


Amy Swinderman

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