Expert forecasts revolution in drug dev. work

In the not too distant future drug development work will be revolutionized by new computer technology that will "test" experimental therapies on virtual humans, says a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers. The new computer-based human model will be instantly adapted to represent every disease, says Steve Arlington. And the cost of drug discovery can be cut by as much as two thirds.

That sort of brave new world would engineer a profound change for drug developers, who take years and hundreds of millions of dollars to advance a drug--often finding out in late-stage trials that they don't work as expected. It's also the kind of model that better suits an approaching age of personalized medicine, when a new generation of therapies will be developed that are more narrowly designed to address disease.

"We are not suggesting that drugs be trialed before they are ready but by 2020 we should be living in an environment where technology will allow doctors and patients to do this," says Arlington. Another sensible way to change the approval process, he says, would be to allow regulators to approve a drug for use in small populations and then expand its use as more data becomes available.

- read the article from The Times