In an intriguing TED-style presentation by Dr. Greg Petsko at this week’s Massachusetts Life Sciences Start-up Initiative convention, the renowned Brandeis/Harvard professor and co-founder of combinatorial chemistry pioneer ArQule, issued a throw-down:
“We need a way to persuade drug companies to part with these compounds and let them be tested on a broad spectrum of diseases so that we can actually find alternative uses.”
Petsko likes a good mystery; indeed, he diversifies his teaching with courses on the history of the detective story and critical thinking. His premise is this: Alzheimer’s patients are far less likely to develop cancers (other than melanoma) and, conversely, cancer patients are much less likely to fall victim to Alzheimer’s disease. There’s gotta be something there.
And, because half of drug developments fail in efficacy trials, after being shown to useful and safe in cell and animal disease models (in other words, they work), it’s likely that these biochemically important compounds have never been tested on the right disease.
Petsko cited the example of a Cambridge company that repurposed a failed cancer drug into an Alzheimer’s treatment, getting through Phase I trials in less than three years because a lot of the heavy lifting had already been done.
So perhaps there is an innovative business opportunity here. Can you say combinatorial efficacy?
David Moschella is a business owner, corporate executive and technologist in the sensors, instrumentation and automation fields. As CEO of Fractal Antenna Systems he led the firm from infancy to trusted provider of wideband antennas to government and commercial customers. Prior to Fractal Antenna, he was vice president of product development for adAlive.com, where he led the team responsible for developing one of the industry’s first platforms for enabling PDA wireless access to the Internet. Mr. Moschella was co-owner of Pronto Product Development Corp., which provided high tech companies with product engineering services to speed time to market. He was also co-founder and president of Ellipsis Products Inc., developers of database connectivity software for LabVIEW, which was sold to National Instruments in 1996. Mr. Moschella began his career as an inertial instrument engineer and data analyst with C.S. Draper Laboratory. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from Bucknell University.