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There is tremendous value to be had in exploiting the pharmaceutical uses of natural products, but few companies built around natural-product platforms have enjoyed much success. To succeed, these companies shouldn't be focused on merely providing chemical diversity to the drug industry. Instead, they need to articulate how their libraries will allow them to close in, quickly and with a relatively low risk of failure, on specific drugs for specific diseases.
Drug Target Discovery. Ventana is developing libraries of "perturbagens"; peptides which disrupt cellular processes by binding to proteins. Initially the firm will search for novel melanoma targets.
The field of acute ischemic stroke is highly promising but enormously risky and fraught with disappointment. With the exception of tPA, no one has ever demonstrated a pharmaco-mechanism which produces efficacy in the clinic. For now, the key to success for companies will be good efficacy and safety data. Start-ups will need partners, but even alliances with major pharmaceutical companies don’t represent a short-term validation of their efforts, since even big companies are stumbling in this field.
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