The stats on cancer drug development are grim. Development programs can take 12 years to complete and only five to 10 percent of the therapies are approved. To help improve the odds, the National Cancer Institute's working group on translational research has come up with a set of six pathways that are intended to clarify and streamline the entire research process. The goal is to reduce the amount of money and time it takes to bring an experimental therapy to the marketplace.
"The NCI supports a great deal of excellent translational research, but inefficiencies arising from a lack of communication and coordinated effort prevent many promising leads from reaching clinical trials and eventual approval," said Lynn Matrisian, Ph.D, a special assistant in the Office of the Director, NCI.
Each pathway is a flowchart with a series of steps intended to clarify and streamline the translational research process. For example, in the anti-cancer agent pathway, researchers are encouraged at the outset to address the following three questions:
- Is the empirical basis for attributing clinical potential (alone and/or in combination) convincing?
- Does the envisioned clinical need justify expenditure of resources?
- Is it feasible to identify/develop an agent against this target?
If the answer to any of these questions is "no," then research leaders are encouraged to direct their research toward more effective plans.
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