Francis Collins continued to promote his concepts around translational medicine in comments posted in the WSJ Health blog this week. He compared the need to connect basic science knowledge with practical applications useful to treating disease as "less like buiding the Golden Gate bridge across a body of water to more like the obstacles a swimmer, sail boat or tug might face attempting cross that expanse and its hazards (e.g. sharks, reefs, storms, etc) ".
He opined that translational efforts could be speeded by encouraging all drug comanies to "open their drug freezers". That would allow the world to test all compounds that have already been found to be safe and active against other targets (since they failed against their original targets) in an attempt to repurpose these drugs. Having passed the safety hurdle, the drugs could then slot into phase II trials for the new indications.
Nice idea were it that simple. It would be an interesting experiment to see if it actually did result in new therapeutic options. Alas, the IP questions that abound from the major pharma companies keeps this experiment on the drawing board for the moment.
The NIH has a drafted a model agreement and they’re working to get drug companies to sign on, he said. I, for one, would like to see this idea tried if for no other reason than to satisfy my curiosity as to whether it could work. It sounds almost too good to be true -- that we could actually benefit from a lot of science that has already been completed and paid for....
Mr Big Pharma, Let Those Drugs Go. Tear Down that Wall.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Apr 12th 2012.