Re: [Red Herring] Gene Mania? Enough already!

From: Jeff Bone (
Date: Wed Feb 21 2001 - 22:39:05 PST

Woo woo!!!! So the killer tech in this area is functional proteomics?

Wow, tell us something we didn't know, Red Herring.

These guys get *paid* for these 2 year-old insights?

Quick "insider" tip for anyone attempting to make a play in this are: go hire
Jeffrey Scholnick from Scripps. Two year lead in anything semi-related, working
code talks bullshit walks. Trust me, I spent REAL DOLLARS* (my own) and about six
weeks doing personal due dilly in this space in Feb. '99 or so.

You heard it hear first,


* Went to a conference early '99 called "Functional Genomics," the topic of which
was ironically proteomics-related. Cheapest PhD ever. ;-) Bear in mind --- I have
no undergrad, bailed on that to work for Sun. Went to this conference.
Apparently, the assumption was that nobody w/o a doctorate in a molbio-related
field would attend --- consequently, my name tag read "Dr. Bone." Woo woo! Still
get trade press trash addressed as such as a result. :-)

Adam Rifkin wrote:

> Score one for science...
> > Gene mania? Enough already!
> > By Stephan Herrera
> > Red Herring, February 16, 2001
> >
> > No doubt about it, the mapping of the human genome was a signal
> > accomplishment in the history of human ingenuity. Anybody who forgot
> > that point was reminded with a cattle prod last Monday when the journals
> > Nature and Science put peer-reviewed copies of this map on their Web
> > sites. The media, the journals, and the rival mapping efforts of the
> > Human Genome Project and Celera Genomics (NYSE: CRA) made sure of
> > that. If you believe the leitmotiv, this newly published genome map will
> > change everything -- particularly at certain biotech firms like Celera,
> > Human Genome Sciences (Nasdaq: HGSI), Doubletwist, and Incyte Genomics
> > (Nasdaq: INCY).
> >
> > Don't believe it. For starters, it's not all that different from the
> > draft human genome map originally released with equally great fanfare
> > last summer. Yes, this new annotated and peer-reviewed version did yield
> > new talking points, but none were quite as tectonic as the headlines
> > would have us believe.
> >
> >
> > Take the supposition that, rather than 100,000 genes, humans might in
> > fact have something closer to 30,000. Estimates in that ballpark were
> > published and pronounced months ago by several different researchers
> > around the world. There were no press conferences nor much hullabaloo at
> > the time because the authors and certainly most in the drug-development
> > sector of biotech understood that the insight that matters is not the
> > definitive number of genes in the genome, but rather the function of
> > the proteins.
> >
> > "We already have the majority of all the genes we need," says Genentech
> > (NYSE: DNA) senior director of research Paul Godowski. "Anyway, all you
> > really need is ten good ones," adds Immunex (Nasdaq: IMNX) CEO Edward
> > Fritzky, whose company subscribes to all three of Celera's genomic products.
> >
> > Celera president J. Craig Venter certainly knew this long before he
> > started this quest three years ago. The media buzz about how Celera
> > somehow has a better seat at the protein party just because it has the
> > coolest database in town is just wrong. Not even Mr. Venter would boast
> > such a claim.
> >
> > Dr. George Poste, former chief of science at SmithKline Beecham and the
> > man who engineered the watershed SKB-Human Genome Sciences deal in 1993,
> > puts it this way: "Many recognized that proteomics would be crucial --
> > regardless of how many genes there might be -- some time ago. Nobody was
> > concerned about how many genes there were in toto because it didn't
> > influence the way they did research or their interest in protein-protein
> > interaction, which is the real key." Red Herring has already made this
> > point as well.
> >
> > Likewise, the information disseminated as "news" on Monday about the
> > prospect that as little as 1 percent of the genome is responsible for
> > life as we know it, and that proteins, not genes at all, are the
> > ultimate Rosetta Stone, is hardly new. And the implication by some that
> > now, all of a sudden, the drug-discovery wilderness is smaller and
> > therefore easier to comb, is equally misleading. "If it's true, it makes
> > me very excited as a scientist," says Jonas Alsenas, a fund manager at
> > ING Barings Furman Selz Asset Management. "Regardless, as an investor,
> > they're at square one as far as I'm concerned."
> >
> > Finally, it was obvious well before Monday that Celera's data would be
> > easier to use than that of the Human Genome Project, given that it was
> > designed to woo high-end customers from the outset. It was equally well
> > understood that the public database would be a bit clunky, owing to the
> > fact that it was packaged to be something more akin to an encyclopedia
> > that would be useful to the broadest possible audience.
> >
> >
> > This is not to take anything away from the scientific significance of
> > this glorious map, or the rival efforts that produced it. It is simply
> > to tether the outsized hype that continues to undermine the credibility
> > of biotechnology. Another reason to focus more on the scientific
> > significance of Monday's publishing gala -- and not to get unduly worked
> > up over the number of genes in our body colossus -- is the simple fact
> > that crucial pieces of what was published on Monday could, in the end,
> > be wrong. The gene-counting experts were wrong about the 100,000 number,
> > so why should anybody put much credence in their latest prediction of 30,000?
> >
> > The folks at gene-hunting outfits like Incyte, Human Genome Sciences,
> > and Doubletwist certainly aren't. Little wonder: Incyte hawks a database
> > with 120,000 genes, Doubletwist's has upward of 105,000, and HGS sports
> > a nice round 100,000. HGS, Incyte, and especially outfits like
> > Doubletwist, which made a splash last year with claims that it had found
> > tens of thousands of genes by simply mining publicly available gene
> > databases, would seem to be in a fix if the lower gene-count number sticks.
> >
> > Beleaguered Celera investors take heart: with the publication of the
> > human genome behind him, Mr. Venter can now train his undivided
> > attention and considerable resourcefulness on proteomics and the genetic
> > variations of disease known as single nucleotide polymorphisms
> > (SNPs). Mr. Venter has said all along that these are his true
> > passion. They certainly are of greater interest to "big pharma" and
> > drug-discovery-based biotech, and these are the forces that create
> > weather patterns in the $350 billion worldwide health care industry.
> >
> > Proteomic and SNP discoveries won't come as quickly as the genomic ones
> > did for Mr. Venter, nor will media valentines. But they'll benefit
> > investors more and get him closer to that Nobel prize faster than
> > anything he accomplished last Monday. Judging by the relatively
> > restrained rise in Celera's share price on Monday -- and the pullback
> > that later in the week all but erased it -- investors sent a message not
> > just to Craig Venter but also to the biotech industry and the media. And
> > that message is, enough already with the hyperbole.
> ----
> Adam@KnowNow.Com
> ...
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> --

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