The city of Denver recently hosted The North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference. Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects more than 30,000 people in the United States. Cystic Fibrosis characteristically causes a thick secretion to occur in the lungs which over time causes airway obstructions, repeated lung infections and ultimately destruction of the lung. Genentech a biotechnology company provided more hope for patients of this disorder and other similar disorders. In an abstract presented by Dr. Michael Konstan of the LeRoy Matthews Cystic Fibrosis Center at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital of Cleveland, Ohio, Pulmozyme tested in a two year clinical study did improve lung capacity immediately and decreased the rate of decline of lung function in cystic fibrosis patients. *
Another study conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh have located a protein molecule called interlukin-23 that is present in cystic fibrosis patients and critical to the development of inflammation of a bacterium which is present in patients. Apparently this inflammatory response is not shut off, exacerbated by protein interlukin-23 and other cytokines which results in lung damage. Again, biotechnology is on the cutting age.
In a separate study presented at a conference in Florida, conducted by the University of Sheffield School of Dentistry and Medicine, Lynne and Colin Bingle presented a paper on the discovery of two proteins whose presence and unique distribution are in the airways of patients with cystic fibrosis. Knowledge of these proteins is derived from the Human Genome Project. However, the implication of the unusual distribution of these proteins in patients with cystic fibrosis has a wide range of applications in treating patients with life threatening lung disorders.
According to Dr. Bingle, “We’ve shown these proteins to be expressed in places like the upper airways, nose and mouth, where many bacteria and infectious agents are found,” These tiny molecules are thought to be part of the first line of the body’s defenses against infectious agents.
The Sheffield Study, The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Study dovetails well with the work conducted by Genentech, the United States’ leading biotechnology research center located in San Francisco.
Genentech is only thirty years old, but it is a senior fellow in the field when it comes to research and design of targeted molecular drug applications. Their bailiwick is disorders and diseases of the hopeless. Unfathomable as to specific origin, except for the outcome, which always led to a crippling and degenerative death. Thanks to their work and in conjunction with the Genome Project, the unfathomable are now discoverable.
Genentech’s multi function organization includes the development of bio Oncology drugs Avastin, used in certain types of lung cancer. Herceptin used in term types of breast cancer. Rituxan used to treat non Hodgkin lymphomas, diffuse B-cell CD-20 incidences. Genentech is also a leading developer of drugs to treat asthma, growth hormone disorders, macular degeneration and other tissue and growth repair maladies.
Genentech has alliances and working agreement with other biotechnology companies and public institutions in all parts of the world. Their long standing working relationship with Tanox a bio therapeutic company relating to the commercialization of Genentech’s asthma drug Xolair culminated in a buyout recently of Tanox.
Genentech houses 700 scientists, their focus is on disease which are in the following three areas:
Oncology, Immunology and Tissue Growth and Repair. The scientific activity includes molecular biology, protein chemistry, bioinformatics and physiology. Parenthetically, protein, receptors and cells to talk to one another, it is called “signaling.”
I was first introduced to this company and others around the world in 1995 when attended an open meeting of executives, scientists and others at the National Institute of Health. The gist of the conference was to place on display the status of various theories of cell and micro biology research and a prospective.
In attendance were smaller labs around the world and I recall meeting a fascinating scientist from Sweden whose main focus was the impact of stress, in creating malfunctioning receptors and cell anomalies. In turn he was researching the use of stressors to reverse the process by in effect fooling the maladaptive cell to get well.
At the time I viewed it as a great Sci. Fi novel equipped with a gnat’s eyelash submarine navigating its way around the various teeny weenie parts of the human body, seeking out and destroying or tricking proteins and other matter to relieve man of all disease and infirmity.
I discovered however that the film had already been made, not well, but had already been done. So, I went on. Genentech, on the other hand and the others are the real deal, no glitz, no special effects, just plugging into the marvels of the human body. ***