Time after time headlines in the news will spotlight a recently developed
drug that may potentially provide treatment to patients that suffer from
diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.
These drugs appear in the news because they have reached the late or near
final stages of the drug development process where they can be tested in
clinical trials involving humans who are living with these diseases. But
again and again it seems that these drugs are discontinued at this late
stage and are thwarted out of becoming the medical therapies their developers
had hoped to create. Why is this so?
recent edition of The Lancet Neurology, an article discussed the problems
for drug development in Alzheimer’s disease. And, although the summary
only focused on this disease, the problems discussed can explain why drugs
being tested for diseases like MS are also failing. One of the reasons that
The Lancet Neurology gives to explain drug failure is the animal issue.
a drug can be tested in humans, it must go through an animal model that
is designed to be as humanlike as possible. This way researchers can observe
how the drug will react with the newly developed treatment as if it were
being tested in a human system. However, it is almost impossible to create
an animal model that will react to a treatment in the same way a human would
or one that can “accurately reflect human pathogenesis.” So,
after experimentation, what a researcher has actually found is a drug that
appears to cure, alleviate symptoms of and repair damage from a disease
in an animal. Yet, when the drug is tested in humans and it does not have
the same effect as it did in the animal model, the drug is rendered useless
to treat human diseases. Then it’s back to the drawing board.
term “translational research” is something else The Lancet Neurology
questions. It looks easy on paper, but attempting to translate drug response
in animal models to human clinical trials is something that rarely seems
to pan out. This is why it is important to create animal models that directly
model human pathogenesis.
would like to read more about this issue, check out the article in The Lancet
by: Megan Rechin