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Business

2009 the year for predictive health start-ups

The problem, as the PredictER blog makes clear in nearly every post, is that most start-ups would have to clear a minefield of ethical concerns from launch to market.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

Personalized medicine illustration from DNAVision of BelgiumIt could be that the importance of 23andme, the genetic testing start-up co-founded by Anne Wojcicki Brin, will have been to attract companies to Sand Hill Road aiming to use genetic information in services or devices.

A sort of Sand Hill crane, if you will. (Picture from DNAVision, a Belgian genetics lab.)

As The New York Times notes in its annual rundown of what venture capitalists are looking for, predictive health is the new Web 2.0.

What the VCs may find is that the space they're looking to pioneer already exists. MEDai has been doing predictive models for five years. Adding genetic data to that would not be hard.

Or they could look at Personalized Physiology and Medicine (PPM), an Indiana outfit which is rolling out a "personal health assessment" product called Viveda.

The problem, as the PredictER blog makes clear in nearly every post, is that most start-ups would have to clear a minefield of ethical concerns from launch to market.

Outgoing HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, in a piece written for the Boston Globe, tried recently to offer a way out. Test genes as a guide to treatment for existing diseases, to find what classes of drugs might work best.

Getting from here to there, however, will take a lot of research on genetic markers, and a host of arrangements for licensing intellectual property, before a working business model develops.

All of which means that, in predictive health, the VCs are going to earn their paychecks.

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