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Wanted: Drug Hunters

Executive Summary

The process of hunting for drugs is now markedly different than it was a few decades ago, partly because research organizations are much bigger and market pressures more intense. Technology has catalyzed the biggest shifts, decreasing the role of individuals and putting more emphasis on method than conceptualization. But the high-tech methods haven't been as productive as expected, and so research executives are increasingly considering which of the traditional ways might be worth recapturing.

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CoroNovative BV

CoroNovative BV is wagering that company co-founder Albert Osterhaus, PhD--who has a worldwide reputation as an expert on viruses--and the team assembling around him will make a habit of identifying new pathogens, and so provide the organization with intellectual property supportive of novel vaccines, diagnostics and treatments.

Amgen Moves Beyond Proteins

Amgen's revenue stream depends largely on just two molecules. It has spent loads of money on the search for replacements, but as yet has relatively little to show for it--at least, little that's been visible to those outside the company. To enlarge its opportunity set, Amgen is moving beyond its macromolecule-only heritage. A fresh cadre of executives, many from Merck, aim to add small-molecule capabilities and leverage corporate understanding of proteins and pathway biology. Amgen is also tapping into a host of other organizations whose technologies, targets, assays and very ways of thinking promise to make the firm more competitive than it could be on its own. While some investors think Amgen is making all the right moves, others are still concerned about the company's ability to bring enough new drugs to market, fast enough, to fill in behind its blockbuster proteins.

Amgen Moves Beyond Proteins

Amgen's revenue stream depends largely on just two molecules. It has spent loads of money on the search for replacements, but as yet has relatively little to show for it--at least, little that's been visible to those outside the company. To enlarge its opportunity set, Amgen is moving beyond its macromolecule-only heritage. A fresh cadre of executives, many from Merck, aim to add small-molecule capabilities and leverage corporate understanding of proteins and pathway biology. Amgen is also tapping into a host of other organizations whose technologies, targets, assays and very ways of thinking promise to make the firm more competitive than it could be on its own. While some investors think Amgen is making all the right moves, others are still concerned about the company's ability to bring enough new drugs to market, fast enough, to fill in behind its blockbuster proteins.

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