Thursday, October 02, 2003

'Old school' medicine meets the modern

This week's news from the U.S. National Institutes of Health might have been underplayed a bit. The NIH's new roadmap has been called an enabler of "personalized medicine," but it seems to be a bit more than that phrase implies (i.e. designer health care for the rich).

A "molecular library," new organizational structure and streamlined drug discovery process represent an acknowledgment by the NIH that the current system is cumbersome and so ... well, 20th century. The NIH plan is also an official recognition that nanotechnology is really going to revolutionize health care -- from the way doctors communicate with one another to the knowledge and tools available to the patients themselves to, most importantly, the length of time it takes from drug discovery to medications on the market.

But these technologies, themselves, are useless if the structure of the health care system remains "old school," and does not reconfigure itself to take full advantage of the these faster and more accurate methods of developing new drugs, and diagnosing and treating diseases.

The next step: Introduce the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to the 21st century.


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