Where will new medicines come from?

By Heather Buschman, Ph.D.
May 16, 2011

In December 2010, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announceda plan to create a new center, known as the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), to speed development and testing of novel diagnostics and therapeutics aimed at a wide range of human diseases.

In a recent opinion piece published in Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), Dr. Henry I. Miller, policy fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, argues against NCATS, claiming that drug development is better left in the hands of private pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

In a rebuttal published online May 13, Sanford-Burnham CEO Dr. John Reed picks apart Dr. Miller’s argument, explaining why the public sector must participate in the search for new medicines and how NCATS will further catalyze these efforts. According to Dr. Reed, private companies are increasingly reluctant to fund the crucial early stages of pre-clinical development – the research necessary to “translate” promising discoveries made in laboratories into potential therapeutics ready for testing in human clinical trials. He writes:

“This situation leaves us with the aptly named “Valley of Death” – the large research and funding gap that sets federally-funded basic researchers (those of us in non-profit research institutions, academia, hospitals and federal laboratories) on one side and the pharmaceutical industry on the other. Few companies are able to reach far enough backward to bridge that gap – the costs and risks are just too high for organizations that are responsible for delivering financial results to their investors and shareholders. Enter the NIH’s newly proposed center for translational sciences – just the shot in the arm basic research needs to reach forward across that valley.”

For more, read “NCATS Could Mitigate Pharma Valley of Death“, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, online May 13, in print May 15, 2011.



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Heather Buschman, Ph.D.

Heather was an SBP Communications staff member.


1 Comment

  1. Pingback: 9 Reasons Sanford-Burnham Blogs | San Diego Biotechnology & Life Science Events, Jobs, News, Company Directory

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