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Mass High Tech Online
09/12/2005 08:26 AM
By Dyke Hendrickson

BG Medicine Inc. moved recently into larger headquarters in Waltham -- a larger space to accommodate a big idea.
The company is developing a platform to take advantage of advances in systems pharmacology. BG Medicine is collaborating with pharmas toward a faster, more accurate method of assessing drug candidates.

Pieter Muntendam, chief executive officer of the private company, said the new facility "allows us to continue to expand our partner offerings in the field of biomarker discovery and systems pharmacology."

BG Medicine was known as Beyond Genomics Inc. until February, when Muntendam was named CEO, and the company changed its direction. He is a former senior executive with GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson. Most recently he led the biopharmaceutical practice at NetNumina.

Under his leadership, BG Medicine has gone from being a drug discovery company to a platform provider that offers services.

BG Medicine has launched an ambitious initiative, using discoveries in genomics to provide pharmas with information about efficacy and safety of compounds earlier.

One reason for such a service is that it costs close to $1 billion now to bring a drug to market. Another is that concerns about safety are becoming paramount. Industry analysts say that pharmaceutical companies would save millions if potential flaws in a drug could be determined before it gets to the market.

Keith Batchelder, a doctor who heads a Boston think tank called Genomic Healthcare Strategies, said systems biology is a promising discipline within the field of medical research.

"Systems biology can be thought of as physiology augmented by computers -- larger data sets can be collected and analyzed with the potential to model more complex physiology and glean insights into mechanisms and treatments for disease," he said.

Noubar Afeyan, managing partner at Flagship Ventures, which invested in BG Medicine, said it is changing the way compounds are assessed. "It has the potential of bringing a new platform to the pharma companies," he said.

Muntendam said pharmas could predict results based on pre-clinical data. "Drug companies want to end a project at the $3 million level rather than the $300 million level if they can."

Copyright 2005 Mass High Tech