Mining the Genome for Drugs

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Science  13 Aug 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5430, pp. 998-1001
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5430.998

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Partly because of its early association with The Institute for Genomic Research, a company started by researchers who had devised an efficient way of finding genes, Human Genome Sciences Inc. of Rockville, Maryland, has a leg up on other biotech companies in current efforts to use modern genomics to find and develop new protein drugs. The hope is that because proteins have been designed by nature to work in the body, they can be developed for clinical use years faster, and far more cheaply, than synthetic chemical drugs can. But proteins often have more widespread effects than drug developers count on, and no one knows whether the genomics approach to finding potential therapeutic proteins will be any more successful than the more traditional approaches.