31 July 2018
Recommendations to come out of a workshop attended by representatives of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Federal Drug Administration, big pharma, and academia hold a dire warning: unless we invest more funding in human- rather than animal-based medical research to better predict which new drugs will treat human disease, the development of new drugs could dry up completely in the next 50 years. The paper, Recommendations toward a human pathway-based approach to disease research, published in the journal Drug Discovery Today summarizes the results of a two-day workshop that took place at the National Institutes of Health in June 2017.
The BioMed21 workshop, co-organized by the National Institutes of Health, The Humane Society of the United States, and Humane Society International, presented a comprehensive overview of existing efforts to prioritize human-based biology for health research and proposed key recommendations to revitalize the drug discovery process.
Amongst others, the key recommendations are the need for greater interdisciplinary and international collaboration, incentivisation of global data sharing, and for global funding calls to prioritize human-based methods instead of traditional failing animal models. Innovative models such as induced pluripotent stem cells, organoids, and organs-on-chips are the future of successful and personalised drug development, the paper’s authors agreed.
Report co-author Dr. Kate Willett, Senior Director for Science and Regulatory Affairs for HSUS and HSI, said: “With more and more drugs failing in clinical trials, clearly there is an urgent need to redefine the current pharmaceutical research paradigm which relies on old-fashioned animal methods. The bad news is that if we don’t move away from these failing animal tests, we could face a drugs drought in the next 50 years, but the good news is that we can avoid that scenario by improving drug development with cutting-edge human-relevant test methods that far better predict whether or not a pharmaceutical will be safe and effective in people. To get there though, stakeholders need to work together on that common goal, and science funders need to prioritize the human-relevant technologies that will be our tool kit of the future, such as microphysiological systems and computational systems biology.”