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What Are The Biotechs' Next Targets?

Readers Report

What Are the Biotechs' Next Targets?

Kudos to "Biotech's next holy grail" (Special Report, Apr. 10) for putting into perspective one of the most exciting developments in biology: the earlier-than-expected completion of a draft of the human genome.

Identifying the products of the genes--i.e., the proteins--will be important, and the authors have done a splendid job of describing the current technologies addressing this problem. It should be noted that these methods are focused only on differentiating between a diseased and a normal state, without directly identifying which protein is the best target to develop a drug. Identifying which proteins interact with one another provides another filter in making a putative drug target.

Ironically, the success of the genomics era has inundated the pharmaceutical and biotech industries with a plethora of choices for drug targets, and making the right choice will be the competitive edge for the successful companies.

Understanding how proteins function within a cell or an organism may be considered as biotech's ultimate holy grail and will be the key in developing the next generation of pharmaceuticals.

Vic L. Ilag

Managing Director

Chief Scientific Officer

Xerion Pharmaceuticals

Martinsried, GermanyReturn to top

A Down-to-Earth Assessment of Yahoo's Market Cap

In "The best performing 50" (Cover Story, Mar. 27), Yahoo! Inc.'s market value on Feb. 29 was $84 billion. Doing some math, I discovered that this is more than the value of all the farm and forestry land in Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa combined. If the farmers sold all the agricultural land of those three states--80 million acres--at $1,000 per acre, they could not buy all Yahoo shares.

I love the Internet, but at those market valuations, I'll keep investing in the "Old Economy."

Alejandro Lieber

Rosario, ArgentinaReturn to top

The Doctors Aren't Entirely to Blame

"The weak link in the drug-safety chain: Doctors" (News: Analysis & Commentary, Apr. 10) unfairly demonizes physicians' prescribing practices. The implication is that new medications are improperly prescribed by uninformed physicians, potentially harming both drug companies and patients. The reality is much more complex.

I know from firsthand experience that physicians learn their prescribing guidelines from the drug companies themselves. The drug company representatives often downplay the side effects and the potential safety hazards of their drugs. The drug companies sponsor the testing of new drugs. Frequently, only later are more unbiased evaluations made available by non-drug-company-funded research. Add to this the trend toward patients' specifically requesting the newest medication, and a situation arises where improper prescribing practices can occur.

For my part, I will continue to prescribe the ever-more wondrous medications with caution and will monitor my patents carefully for any side effects. I will also strive to keep abreast of potential side effects--from the sources where I usually hear about problems first: the lay press.

Robert Audell, M.D.

Beverly Hills, Calif.Return to top

EMC Is Still the Leader in Data Storage

I enjoyed "Get those files out of here" (Information Technology, Apr. 10) discussing data storage as a service. We are a customer of Storage Networks Inc. and specifically chose them because of their use of EMC equipment.

I disagree with the author's contention that EMC may lose touch with the customer if companies begin using managed data services instead of buying equipment directly from EMC. Like many other organizations, our corporate offices, data center, and development teams are located in different cities.

Unlike most vendors I deal with, where the sales representative spends most of the initial meeting determining if he or she will absolutely receive quota credit if I purchase, EMC has only had one concern: Are we using or planning to use EMC equipment? The EMC team local to Columbus, Ohio, has always been available for consultation and problem resolution even though we have not purchased any equipment directly from EMC.

They have pulled in whatever resources are necessary in order to find answers to our architecture and best-practices questions at no cost to us. Storage Networks provides an excellent service but EMC will continue to drive data storage decisions if they are giving all of Storage Networks Inc. customers the level of service we are receiving.

Peter A. O'Neill

Vice-President for Technology Inc.

Dublin, OhioReturn to top

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