Monday, August 24, 2009

Turning Science into Therapies

How long does it take for a "scientific breakthrough" to lead to an accepted medical therapy? According to a study published last year in Science, about 24 years on average, with a span of 14 to 44 years. And very few "breakthroughs" announced with fanfare ever do lead to any real medicine:
Despite a major interest in translational research (1-3), development of new, effective medical interventions is difficult. Of 101 very promising claims of new discoveries with clear clinical potential that were made in major basic science journals between 1979 and 1983, only five resulted in interventions with licensed clinical use by 2003 and only one had extensive clinical use (4). Drug discovery faces major challenges (5-8). Moreover, for several interventions supported by high-profile clinical studies, subsequent evidence from larger and/or better studies contradicts their effectiveness or shows smaller benefits (9).
This is from one of my skeptical heroes, John Ioannidis, author of the brilliant "Why Most Published Research Findings are False."

1 comment:

kathy said...

Wow. Even I have a better track record in my own research (projects I've worked on / projects that resulted in a product out the door) than the 95% failure rate cited here. In fact, if something is hailed as a breakthrough you should be betting that it will *never* turn into a practical therapy!