Editorial—Welcome to Our PMP Series

Aug 01, 2004
Volume 17, Issue 8

Carol L. Fisher
What were you doing on the evening of July 20, 1969? If you are at least a baby boomer, you were probably watching Neil Armstrong take "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Sputnik aside, the birth of that monumental achievement probably began with the same question that sparked so many other great feats: "What if?" Where would civilization be if someone periodically hadn't had the imagination and the courage to ask that question, whether their field of expertise was aeronautical engineering, architecture, or biotechnology?

It takes a "What if" to get the ball rolling, then energy, commitment, and a lot of money to see the idea through to the end, especially when false starts and naysayers make it tempting to halt funding and throw in the towel. Take space exploration. Even Dwight D. Eisenhower couldn't see beyond what it would cost the American taxpayers. Yet think of the direct and indirect benefits we've derived from those efforts.

I wonder how much of the technology covered in BioPharm International started with "What if?" This month, you'll read about chromatography, water purification, and filtration — all well-established technologies that once upon a time were considered novel and worthy of skepticism until they proved their worth in terms of effectiveness, efficiency, reliability, and economics.

You'll also read an overview of the plant-made pharmaceutical (PMP) sector, the first article in our series covering some of the most promising PMP technologies currently under development, along with their unresolved regulatory, environmental, and business issues. Certainly, "What if?" jumpstarted some of this science.

We don't know yet if these new technologies will fulfill their intended missions. Nor do we know what PMP-related opportunities may lie ahead for the rest of the industry once PMP developers iron out the technology's remaining kinks. But Carl Sagan once said, "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." So after the first PMP products receive FDA approval, and eventually they will, there will just be that many more opportunities to ask, "What if?"

Carol L. Fisher, Editor in Chief
BioPharm International

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