Chapter

From Molecules to Medicines

Astrid J. Scholz

in Engineering Trouble

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2003 | ISBN: 9780520237612
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520937499 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520237612.003.0009
From Molecules to Medicines

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This chapter describes the drug discovery process in pharmaceutical research to show how deeply the new biotechnologies constitute the politics and economics of genetic resources. The analysis concerns the interest of the pharmaceutical industry in biological diversity and draws on interviews with researchers, managers, and policy makers, and on participant observation at sites of drug research—including industry, university, and government laboratories. Successful development of natural products depends on access to and collection of the biological source materials. Taxol illustrates two characteristics of natural products that have become significant in the discourse about genetic resources. The use of natural products is now defined in terms of the capital costs that have already been sunk into high-throughput screening and analytical biochemistry. Given the changes in the pharmaceutical industry and the political prominence it was afforded by the biodiversity discourse, the utilitarian argument for preserving biodiversity is a Trojan horse.

Keywords: drug discovery; pharmaceutical research; genetic resources; pharmaceutical industry; biological diversity; natural products; Taxol

Chapter.  9810 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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