Saturday, December 16, 2006

Of Mice & Men

Wow, if this breakthrough with mice up in Canada translates into something meaningful for humans, there might eventually be a lot of short candidates among companies benefiting from the scourge of diabetes. The National Post is reporting scientists have cured the wicked disease in mice! I'm 43, and thanks to diabetes I've had a kidney transplant and find myself partially sighted in the left eye due to diabetes (driving is becoming more of an adventure at night and that's why you might see some interesting typos on this blog). It is truly a rotten disease which I battle every day with regular insulin injections, finger sticks to carefully monitor glucose and a regimen of careful diet and regular exercise; and yet I still feel the disease has the upper hand. Cure? Could the world handle that? Could corporate American handle that? Just off the top of my head, Eli Lilly (LLY), a big maker of insulin, would probably be cut in half overnight; it would be a disaster for a number of blue chip medical names since diabetes directly causes or is a contributing factor to so many other diseases. On the other hand, it might be a boon to health insurance companies, or would it merely enable a whole group of people who would have died sooner to live longer and stress out the system later? A cure for diabetes would have profound implications. But I won't get carried away with speculation since as the article points out, there's plenty of skepticism over whether it's as easy as a capsaicin injection (the ingredient in hot chili peppers). Anything involving a breakthrough in the lab with mice is often years away from a human application, though there is some optimism.

Not to be a wet blanket, but this sounds like a nightmare for the drug industry - something from red hot chili peppers that can't be patented and turned into a multi billion dollar blockbuster? Oy, that's not gonna fly at the FDA. But, hey, maybe some high scoville unit laden chalupas and chimichangas can't hurt - just not from Taco Bell!

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