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From Scientific Idea to Life-Saving Pill / by Juhi Kunde

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From Scientific Idea to Life-Saving Pill

June 15th, 2012 - by Juhi Kunde

by Juhi Kunde

http://blog.lungevity.org/2012/06/15/fr ... ving-pill/

Every so often, a scientific experiment triggers an idea with the potential to save lives.

But it requires many critical steps to convert a scientific idea into a pill that cures disease. These steps are called “translational research” projects – and they are time-consuming, expensive and do not guarantee a successful outcome. They are also very underfunded.

People are starting getting interested in translational research. I recently read a magazine article noting that scientists conducting translational research face a major hurdle. It is, of course, money.

Like an inventor who has a good idea, a scientist with a potential breakthrough has to find funding to develop and then test his ideas. And when you are trying to develop new diagnosis or treatment techniques and then run clinical trials that meet FDA-standards, you are running multi-million dollar projects that will likely take decades to complete and have a high probability of failure. Not an easy investment to sell to biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

Without other funding sources, these breakthrough ideas will end up in (what the industry has dubbed) “the Valley of Death” – i.e. the place where innovative ideas go to languish and die because they don’t have enough funding to be developed and tested.

While for-profit companies cannot swallow the price of failed science, smart non-profits, universities and government agencies understand that failed experiments are the price we pay for major breakthroughs in the field. That is why LUNGevity, the National Institutes of Health and others have policies in place to boost translational research.

With every risk of failed science, there is also a hope of innovative life-saving success.

And if we want to see big improvements in patient care, we should foster that hope with all our might. But fostering hope does not mean just throwing money at scientists.

Each promising translational research project should be vetted by experts in the field, guided by milestones, and discussed with colleagues to give it the best possible chance of success. That is what LUNGevity does.

By funding translational research, encouraging multi-disciplinary communication and shepherding ideas through “the Valley of Death”, LUNGevity bolsters the chance of successful translational research in the treatment and early detection of lung cancer.

Because, at the end of the day, successfully converting a scientist’s idea into a new lung cancer therapy is worth the risk of a few failed attempts.

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