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The Scientist Volume 21 | Issue 8 | OCTOBER 2007

  • Selling System Biology


No one could figure out why the drug wasn't working. Iressa, an anticancer drug from AstraZeneca, originally seemed very promising. The US Food and Drug Administration approved it as part of its accelerated program in May 2003, suspecting the drug blocked a step in the cell replication pathway of lung cancer and other tumors. But the drug shrunk only 10.6% of tumors.

And this is, essentially, the only systems biology question that matters to industry: Will it, either alone or in combination with other strategies, make companies money? For now, Wall Street remains skeptical. "I don't think you can invest in 'systems biology,'" says Anthony Butler at Lehman Brothers in New York. "How are we supposed to translate that to dollars?"

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