Personalised medicine has shown great potential in all aspects of disease management, but it is in the area of oncology that tailor made drug therapies shine.
Such is the need for a new approach in oncology, researchers are willing to invest in high-value tests given the adverse reactions caused by cancer drugs combined with the high mortality rates for the diseases.
Indeed, cancer diagnostic tests currently hold the largest share in the pharmacogenomic and predictive medicine market segments.
The AutovaxID-C is an automated hollow fibre cell culture instrument that collects secreted protein from cells and controls the growth of the cells automatically for 30 days or more.
Growth takes place in sterile, disposable patient specific modules that are bar coded for ease of tracking and identification.
The $1.9 billion (€1.6 billion) nucleic acid diagnostic market includes testing for infectious and genetic diseases, as well as cell/tissue typing, cancer genetics and personalised medicine.
It is the fastest growing sector of the diagnostic marketplace, increasing at a rate of 20-40 per cent per annum.
This could, according to some industry experts, create a potential $8-10 billion (€6.7-€8.4 billion) market segment by 2010.
"Cancer vaccines are one of the most exciting and promising fields of personalised medicine," said Carl Cohen, Chief Operating Officer, Biovest.
"The production of a patient specific vaccine to immunise individuals against their own cancers has been a goal of investigators in both academia and industry. Biovest is currently testing an idiotype vaccine to treat follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphomas in a Phase 3 clinical trial."
The approach uses hybridoma technology to produce complete idiotype proteins identical to those on the tumour B cells. Results from early clinical trials are very encouraging and generating a lot of excitement in the medical community; however, there has been some concern about the challenge of producing personalised vaccines on a large scale.
"At this meeting we presented the first of a suite of instruments, designed and produced by the Biovest Advanced Instrumentation Division, that automates many of the steps involved in hybridoma-based manufacturing," said Cohen.
"We believe that our new instruments will facilitate the large-scale manufacture of personalised vaccines. We also believe that there is a significant market potential for this instrument."
Many industry analysts believe the emergence of personalised therapy will become the biggest thing to hit the pharmaceutical industry, changing the way treatments are administered and managed.
In the future it may be possible for doctors to provide a personalised treatment for virtually any illness through the analysis of a blood sample. Similarly, doctors could also spot potential illnesses before they become a problem and take preventative measures.