Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A shortcut to curing human disease

Last time we discussed the crazy high costs of sponsoring clinical trials. What you may not realize, however, is that there's a shortcut to making medical advances - the medical "innovation".

"Medical innovations" is what surgeons call trying out new techniques on patients. It's important to keep in mind here the difference between medicine and research. As a recent 
Science article explains:
... What are the hallmarks of an innovative stem cell–based medical intervention? To answer this question, we have to clarify the central difference between research, as carried out in a clinical trial process, and medical innovation. As explained in the seminal U.S. research ethics document, the Belmont Report, research aims at scientifically generalizable results (not patient care), whereas the goal of medical innovation is the benefit of the individual patient. Because of these disparate aims, the regulatory requirements for clinical research do not serve as a proper surrogate for the ethical standards appropriate for attempts at medically innovative therapies. In short, the ethics of medical innovation is the ethics of patient care, not research.
There is potential here for a cheapie shortcut towards curing human disease. Basic research funding is cheap and gives us detailed, scientific information. Medical innovations are cheap and let us test potential cures. If we can establish lines of communication between the two (plus reasonable ethical guidelines for their application), perhaps we can circumvent the need for prohibitively expensive clinical trials - and discover some new cures in the process.

1 comment:

therapydoc said...

Wouldn't that be nice.