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, Germany

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