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Biomedical Breakthroughs are Transforming Medicine and Promise to Radically Ease the Impact of Aging

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Eli Lilly and Company chairman and chief executive officer, Sidney Taurel, has outlined the promises of the coming biomedical revolution in a speech at the Economic Club of Florida, comparing scientists to Ponce de Leon landing on the shores of Florida with an entire continent to explore.

Taurel, who outlined many of the technologies and discoveries arising from the Human Genome Project, said Florida was especially important as a "laboratory for the future in health care," a place for studying the challenges facing an aging population.

New technologies and innovative life sciences are revealing a wealth of previously unknown information about disease progression and human immune response, he said.

Among the new technologies are microarrays, RNA interference, bioinformatics and biomarkers.

Such information allows scientists to better predict which patients will most benefit from specific therapies.

With understanding of how to target therapies to those most likely to benefit, pharmaceutical companies can provide better care and minimize risk.

"We believe we're in the early stages of a major leap forward in new drug discovery," Taurel said.

"With all the new ideas and new tools emerging from the biomedical revolution, we see the potential to develop and deliver highly customized treatments, optimized for specific patient populations."

"This is the concept behind a tailored therapeutics model. The ultimate vision would be to predictably deliver 'the right dose of the right drug to the right patient at the right time.'"

Tailoring has the potential to eliminate waste and make every dollar deliver benefit, he noted.

Taurel said the technological revolution in the development of new drugs and therapies - which he described in some detail - promises better, more- effective treatments for a whole range of diseases.

"I believe that treatments that would have been regarded as miraculous ten years ago will be in common use in the future," he said.

He outlined some of the areas where huge advances could soon be made, saying the scientific community "may be right on the edge of a breakthrough in Alzheimer's."

He said there is hope that pharmaceutical therapies could soon make cancer a chronic disease rather than a fatal one, repair cardiovascular damage and reverse heart disease. Taurel predicted a much better quality of life for the aging Americans.

"When you add up the progress already made in the illnesses that cause much of the disability for seniors and project it forward, you can see major improvement on so many fronts."

"In addition, our scientists foresee new treatments to preserve cognition and mobility and to fight frailty and pain. Old age will take on a new meaning," he said.

Taurel concluded by stating his optimism for the future of health care. "All of this is possible - in terms of science and technology - but none of it is guaranteed. I'm hopeful our public policies will support the continued innovations that will help us realize this incredible potential."