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Better Drugs Now

I recently came across this TedTalk by Francis Collins and wanted to share it.

A key player in the United States brain-mapping project, Francis Collins is director of the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. and his talk entitled We Need Better Drugs – Now.

Dr. Collins explains why it is so important for continued and ongoing innovative drug research. Earlier this week, I blogged about the importance of research relating to rare diseases. As part of my work here with LillyPadCA, I joined CORD, the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders, during their Rare Disease Conference and Action Day, where multiple stakeholders from across the provinces met in Ottawa to discuss Canada’s strategy for providing the care and infrastructure to help develop treatments for rare diseases.

Rare diseases are relevant here in Canada. According to some of the latest numbers, almost 1 in 12 Canadians have some form of rare disease or disorder.

In his talk, Dr. Collins points to translational research to produce better drugs, faster. Drugs that may benefit those with rare diseases as well.

He argues that looking at existing discoveries and partnering to figure out how to purpose the discovery could be applied to help drive this need for growth in discovery. In other words, repurposing existing chemical compounds. To do this Collins helped launch the National Health Institute’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences in 2011. In his own words the elements required:

 “First of all, we need resources. This is research that's high-risk, sometimes high-cost. The payoff is enormous, both in terms of health and in terms of economic growth. We need to support that. Second, we need new kinds of partnerships between academia and government and the private sector and patient organizations, just like the one I've been describing here, in terms of the way in which we could go after repurposing new compounds. And third, and maybe most important, we need talent. We need the best and the brightest from many different disciplines to come and join this effort -- all ages, all different groups -- because this is the time, folks.” Dr. Francis Collins

One of the key messages I took away from this piece, was the importance of ongoing, innovative research. Whether ongoing research relating to successful discoveries that improves treatment regimes and efficacy, working to simplify frequency and method of drug administration, or research on new applications for pre-existing applications, all work to the benefit of patients.

Here's the video, worth a watch: