From Blockbuster to Netflix
changing the business model to produce better cancer medicines
Cancer will affect 1 in 3 people. Treatment requires killing bad cells while leaving the good ones alone. The key is specificity – the ability to distinguish one cell from another.
Target medicines work but each cancer is unique. This means that medicines should be custom-engineered for each person. The current pharmaceutical business model cannot support this approach. It makes mass-market medicines and aims for Blockbusters — drugs with $1B or more in annual sales.
For the last decade, I have championed “3D printed” medicines that can be designed and made for just one person at a time. This approach is more like Netflix – streaming medicines. To explore this approach, I built a cooperative biotech company (Pink Army) in 2009 that taught many lessons but wasn’t a commercial success. Since 2012, Autodesk has supported efforts to prototype synthetic viruses and nanoparticles. We’ve made great progress. So in early 2017, Humane Genomics was incorporated to build on this foundation. We’re raising money now.
There’s still a lot of work to do, but the work is really exciting. Printing new medicines on demand may turn out how we beat cancer.