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ddn dissects current cancer craze
August 2010
by Amy Swinderman  |  Email the author

Celgene and Abraxis; The Koch Institute and Ortho-McNeil-Janssen; Aeterna Zentaris and Almac; Signature Diagnostics and Affymetrix; Emerald BioStructures and FORMA Therapeutics—business deals and agreements associated with cancer research are plentiful these days, and this month, ddn's editors and writers give you several examples of the latest oncology-related acquisitions, mergers and partnerships to be signed in this burgeoning area of pharmaceutical and biological research.  
The companies involved in these agreements are located and do business across the globe, from some of the leading academic institutions in the United States to the green hills of Northern Ireland. The agreements carry price tags from several hundred thousand dollars to a few billion—yes, billion—dollars. The deals also involve many facets of oncology research, from preclinical drug discovery to the technology used to conduct cancer-related experiments. Despite their diversity, these pacts have one thing in common—they all seek the holy grail of cancer research: better diagnostics, more effective treatments and perhaps most of all, a cure.
It's no surprise that cancer research is perhaps the fastest growing disease area of exploration. According to a recent report by market research firm MarketsandMarkets, 2008 saw almost 12 million patients diagnosed with cancer. Despite increasing technological advancements and research, death due to cancer claimed about 8 million people in 2008.
It's therefore no coincidence that beginning with this issue, ddn will examine trends in the oncology research market in a multi-part series that will stretch into the end of this year. This month, we take a close a look at companies that are integrating various approaches to identifying potential cancer treatments, from metabolomics to small-molecule drug discovery to biomarker development, and beyond. We also report on some of the latest genetic technologies and molecular approaches to studying cancer.
In the coming months, we'll examine the explosion of the pharmacogenetics market; where funding for cancer research comes from and where it goes; which types of cancer are the focus of most research efforts; collaborative efforts involving industry and academia; and much more.  
When our series is completed later this year, we hope we'll have provided you with a time capsule of the oncology research market, one that shows where we 've been, where we are and where we're headed. If you are conducting research in this growing segment, making groundbreaking progress in the treatment or diagnosis of cancer or developing the tools to make these breakthroughs happen, we would like to hear from you. Please e-mail David Hutton, our senior editor, at, to lend your voice to the series. Please help us tell your story.
Cheers & Jeers
Jeers … to LeBron "Taking My Talents to South Beach" James, basketball phenom and former Cleveland Cavalier, who officially announced July 8 that he will comprise one-third of some sort of "NBA dream team" (in his mind, anyway) on the Miami Heat. I received a lot of fan mail from readers after my June column, "We are all witnesses to failure and success," which envisioned a world where we focus our time, energy and talent on things that evoke necessary change, not on trivial matters like the mass hysteria surrounding James' decision on where to wear sneakers to work and play a game for a living. While I'm sure these statements seem bitter and vitriolic, I don't mourn the loss of James in Cleveland, despite his many community contributions, because as I stated in my previous editorial, it's "hardly the stuff of which a stable economy, respected academic community and competitive workforce is made." Instead, I jeer James for the inane PR gaffe that was "The Decision," his hour-long, narcissistic spot on ESPN, where, without so much as a "thanks for the support, Cleveland," he let his intentions be known. Everyone from sports journalists to current NBA officials and some of the sport's most respected players have questioned the state of a league in which such behavior is condoned. "But things are different now," say people like Michael Jordan. The only difference I see is that there are some very short-sighted, out-of-touch public relations professionals who consistently roll the dice on public perception, too blinded by dollar signs and short news cycles to understand the impact that class and grace can have on a person's career or even an entire industry. Shame on them.
Cheers … to the PR professionals in this industry who protect their clients' good name and make them accessible to people like us at ddn. You know who you are.



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