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[Video] Open source biotech

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7 replies to this topic

#1 caliban

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 10:21 PM


Name: Open source biotech
Category: Policy, Economics, Philosophy
Date Added: 26 October 2012 - 11:21 PM
Submitter: caliban
Short Description: None Provided

eternaltravelleron making biotech open source and tearing down barriers to science.

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#2 Mind

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 12:12 PM

There has to be some sort-of collusion in the biotech tools/reagent market. Typical market competition would not allow profit mark-ups of 22,000%

#3 eternaltraveler

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 10:53 PM

Talk i gave at Open Science Summit



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#4 Mind

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 11:03 PM

Watched it. Why are there no competitors in the market undercutting the outrageous prices for base biotech products? Patents?

#5 eternaltraveler

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 11:35 PM

Ha! Always the first two questions. And reasonably so.

There are no patent holders for the vast majority of recombinant proteins that are used today in research. Recombinant protein technology is from the 70s. Patents on most of these things are long expired if they ever existed. There are exceptions of course; we simply can't make those where patents are still valid. We can make all human cytokines, and we can make antibodies to anything simply through vaccination and immortalization of the relevant clones; these are new antibodies. We don't even need to pay gene synthesis companies, as I have all the sequences for human cytokines in my own cDNA.

The overarching question is more difficult. Government buying drives up asset prices. If we look in terms of government stimulated markets, then the NIH and NSF combined spending is about 38 billion a year, a large portion of that goes to this industry which in total is only 40 billion in size. Professors are not very incentivized to cut costs in this regard, and can be incentivized for the opposite. It looks reasonable for a professor to take a 300k salary when their reagent budget is millions, not so much if it was 20k. No existing player could survive if they dropped the bottom out of the market, even if they then took all of it.

Ultimately capitalism doesn't seem to apply very much in healthcare and research. I'm sure you could think of many more answers.

We know as undisputed facts that these things cost nothing to make. We are making some of them now. It does take some level of expertise that isn't very common.

Instead of trying to focus on untying this Gordian knot, I intend to cut it with a sword.

Edited by eternaltraveler, 05 November 2012 - 11:36 PM.


#6 eternaltraveler

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 11:41 PM

I'm doing this because this crap pissed me off. During the peak of our operations at our regenerative medicine company 80 or 90% of our spending went to these things. I want people having stem cell startups that cost 1-50k to get going. Not millions.

#7 niner

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 01:54 AM

The overarching question is more difficult. Government buying drives up asset prices. If we look in terms of government stimulated markets, then the NIH and NSF combined spending is about 38 billion a year, a large portion of that goes to this industry which in total is only 40 billion in size. Professors are not very incentivized to cut costs in this regard, and can be incentivized for the opposite. It looks reasonable for a professor to take a 300k salary when their reagent budget is millions, not so much if it was 20k. No existing player could survive if they dropped the bottom out of the market, even if they then took all of it.

Ultimately capitalism doesn't seem to apply very much in healthcare and research. I'm sure you could think of many more answers.


Something is broken there. Grants aren't easy to get these days, which drives people away from high-risk work. They might not want to take on any risk with bargain basement reagents when they know that the expensive ones work. I think this is another example of why lots of small grants that are easy to get can be better than a few large grants that are hard to get. It would encourage creativity and risk-taking, which is what academia should be doing.

Instead of trying to focus on untying this Gordian knot, I intend to cut it with a sword.


Glad to hear it. Nice to see you around these parts again. Best of luck with this venture.

#8 eternaltraveler

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 03:03 AM

Nice to see you around these parts again.



thanks. :)

I've poked my nose in now and again.





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