In his State of the Union address last month, President Obama announced the Precision Medicine Initiative, a bold new research effort to revolutionize how we improve health and treat disease.
According to a new report released last month by the trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the biopharmaceutical pipeline is innovative and robust, with a high percentage of potential first-in-class medicines (meaning a new treatment where nothing currently exists) targeting diseases with limited treatment options. In addition to identifying medicines in development for conditions and diseases such as septic shock, ovarian cancer, sickle cell disease, and Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), which haven’t had any new product approvals in the last ten years, the report offers positive news for the rare disease community: one third of the products currently in clinical development have a rare disease designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was announced earlier this week. The prize was awarded to two scientists for their work on reprogramming mature cells to become pluripotent.
The prize of 10-million-Swedish-krona (US$1.5-million) was divided, one half jointly to Sir John B. Gurdon, age 79, at the Gurdon Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom, and Shinya Yamanaka, age 50, at Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan and the Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco, California, USA, for the discovery that mature, specialized cells can be reprogrammed to become immature cells capable of developing into all tissues of the body.