[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
Open a newspaper any day of the week and you’re likely to read about a “promising new treatment” for one disease or another. But according to a study published in the September 5th issue of Science, it can take decades for those cures to make it to the clinic. Researchers from the U.S. and Greece combed through the scientific literature to see how long it actually takes for compounds that look good in the laboratory to get through clinical trials and get used on patients.
The scientists focused their attention on a handful of interventions that were widely hailed as being clinically effective. And they found that, for the average drug, the time that elapsed between its initial discovery and the first paper to show its clinical effectiveness was about 24 years. Some drugs moved much faster. One of the protease inhibitors used to treat HIV made it from patenting through clinical trials in only four years. Maybe that’s because the team studying that drug included experts in both basic and clinical sciences. The researchers say that such multidisciplinary efforts could help future treatments get to the clinic sooner. In the meantime, they note, scientists should avoid making promises about quick cures.