Beyond Biotech podcast 60 – The cost of research

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On this week’s podcast, we have a conversation with Dr Jack Scannell, CEO of Etheros Pharmaceuticals Corp.

Scannell recently co-authored a paper on the expenses related to clinical research and the factors that underly the translational failure of inhibitors of the insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R) in oncology.

Costs and Causes of Oncology Drug Attrition With the Example of Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 Receptor Inhibitors, published in Jama Network Open, looked at 16 inhibitors of IGF-1R, in 183 clinical trials involving more than 12,000 patients. None of the agents received approval for clinical use in oncology practice and the trials were estimated to have had expenses of greater than $1.6 billion. Half of the published in vivo preclinical data analyzed showed less than a 50% inhibition of tumor growth by IGF-1R inhibitors.

The authors stated that failed drug development in oncology incurs substantial expense. At an industry level, an estimated $50 billion to $60 billion is spent annually on failed oncology trials. 

Improved target validation and more appropriate preclinical models are required to reduce attrition, with more attention paid to decision-making before launching clinical trials. A more appropriate use of resources may better reduce cancer mortality, the authors argued.

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