The future's bright, the future's genomics, says drug CEO

By Wai Lang Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Medicine Drug discovery

According to the CEO and Chairman of pharmaceutical giant Eli
Lilly, the biomedical breakthroughs that are occurring within the
industry are transforming medicine and promise to ease the
challenges facing an aging population.

Sidney Taurel, speaking at the Economic Club of Florida outlined a future where a wealth of previously unknown information about disease progression and human immune response would lead to the development and delivery of customised treatments, optimised for specific patient populations.

In addition he devoted part of his speech to the aging population and age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's, claiming that the industry "may be right on the edge of a breakthrough."

He added that there was hope pharmaceutical therapies could soon make cancer a chronic disease rather than a fatal one, repair cardiovascular damage and reverse heart disease.

"When you add up the progress already made in the illnesses that cause much of the disability for seniors and project it forward, you can see major improvement on so many fronts,"​ he added.

"In addition, our scientists foresee new treatments to preserve cognition and mobility and to fight frailty and pain. Old age will take on a new meaning."

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) between 2004 and 2050 will see the number of young persons in the EU (aged 0-14) drop by 18 per cent.

The working-age population (15-64) will fall by 48m, or 16 per cent, whereas the elderly population aged 65+ will rise sharply, by 58m (or 77 per cent), and the fastest-growing segment of the population will be the very old (aged 80+) rising by an astonishing 174 per cent.

Taurel, identified many of the new technologies and discoveries arising from the Human Genome Project, citing Florida as "a place for studying the challenges facing an aging population,"​ as well as being 'especially important as a laboratory for the future in health care.'

Among the new technologies are microarrays, RNA interference, bioinformatics and biomarkers. Such new information allows scientists to better predict which patients will most benefit from specific therapies.

With greater understanding of how to target therapies to those most likely to benefit, pharmaceutical companies can provide better care and minimise risk.

"We believe we're in the early stages of a major leap forward in new drug discovery. With all the new ideas and new tools emerging from the biomedical revolution,"​ Taurel said.

"This is the concept behind a tailored therapeutics model. The ultimate vision would be to predictably deliver 'the right dose of the right drug to the right patient at the right time.'"

He added that the technological revolution in the development of new drugs and therapies promises better, more effective treatments for a whole range of diseases.

"I believe that treatments that would have been regarded as miraculous ten years ago will be in common use in the future,"​ he said.

Taurel concluded by stating his optimism for the future of health care. "All of this is possible in terms of science and technology but none of it is guaranteed."

"I'm hopeful our public policies will support the continued innovations that will help us realise this incredible potential."

Related topics Preclinical Research Preclinical

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