New Drugs: The Haystack Gets Smaller

Developing new treatments from protein "needles" will be easier

Recombinant insulin, EPO, TPA. Together, these big-sellers and a half dozen other biotech drugs accounted for $5 billion in revenues last year. They also share a common biological trait: They are all genetically engineered versions of proteins naturally secreted into the body by human cells. Secreted proteins are the workhorses of the body, conveying messages from one cell to another and playing key roles in countless bodily functions. They are also among the most highly sought-after candidates for new drugs.

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