Research News

How universities can help fill the “pipeline” with important new drugs

PillsBringing a new drug to market is an increasingly daunting – and expensive – task.

Today it costs more than $1 billion and takes more than seven years, on average, to complete the human studies required for a drug to be approved for marketing.

Only about one in five drugs makes it through the clinical trial pipeline. And that’s not counting the thousands of promising compounds that are eliminated before they even get to human testing.

In today’s economic environment, many drug companies are downsizing their research operations, laying off scientists and tightening their belts, as patent protection ends for some of their best-selling brand name products.

As a result, the pharmaceutical industry is struggling to fill the “pipeline” with new compounds that could help solve important problems in human health.

This is where the university drug discovery programs can help.

At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, for example, researchers are exploring potential new ways to treat schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease, a compound that may stop a vicious form of breast cancer in its tracks, and a paradigm-shifting approach to obesity and diabetes that “tickles” a receptor in the brain.

Read about these efforts and more in the latest issue of Vanderbilt Medicine.