In mice and men: Drug development spike brings a new approach

by Emily Butler, content coordinator

In a new twist on the traditional progression of pharmaceutical research, a cancer researcher is testing novel therapies in humans and animals at the same time.

An article in yesterday’s Boston Globe explains how Dr. Pier Paolo Pandolfi’s tandem strategy might help investigators design targeted therapies more quickly and efficiently: “What is learned at the bedside can be integrated with results from the lab bench to speed up and streamline the development of cancer drugs.”

In addition to speeding up the clinical trial process, the strategy addresses the shortage of cancer patients who are available to enroll in cancer clinical trials. The Globe reports “there are about 850 cancer drugs in clinical development, according to the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, a 70 percent increase in three years.”

Pandolfi’s approach could allow investigators to more efficiently discover new and better targeted therapies offering new hope for ill patients who are not responding to standard treatment.

How might tandem human and animal clinical trials affect the process of IRB and IACUC oversight? How closely should IRBs and IACUCs communicate in these kinds of trials? What are your thoughts on how this novel approach might affect the practice of ethical oversight?