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Sunday, August 23, 2009

A River Runs Through It

I'm currently faced with a situation that would have pushed me over the edge in my younger days. We are working in "process development" in a small biotech company. We spent a few years getting by, purifying antibodies on a routine basis. All of our methods seemed to have come from a contract manufacturer who was hired years ago to produce a drug candidate for us. Our people knew nothing to begin with, and after watching the contract manufacturer do their work, they knew very little. What our people did was to find out what buffers were used. That is all they came away with. They did not know why the buffers were chosen but they knew that they worked.

What we have now is a clear "Cargo Cult Science". (CCS)

Our contract manufacturers succeed. They must or they will not continue as an entity. We on the other hand can carry on for years, because we do not have to produce anything other than charts and graphs that can be presented at meetings with affluential people. Contract manufacturers produce our drug and they must not only convince the world that the protein exists, but it is in the very vials that they send forth! And they do it very well. We don't know how.

But we, in this little company, take the proteins in the vials and we take them to the Cargo Cult Airport. We incorporate them into our rituals and invite our investors to sit with us and wait for the airplanes to arrive. So far nothing but a whole lot of money.

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