Q&A: Improving preclinical trials

Measures are needed to increase the chance of success for drugs entering clinical trials

Hannah Waters
Mar 7, 2011
Studies are published regularly touting a promising new drug that could bring relief to thousands or millions of disease sufferers. However, published meta-analyses show that only around 5 percent of drugs that show potential in animal studies ever get licensed for human use. This low success rate is not only troubling scientifically, but also raises questions about the ethics of performing drug trials in humans that will not necessarily help the participants.
Alex London of Carnegie Mellon University
Image: Courtesy of Alex London
But there are ways to improve the predictive value of preclinical trials, argue biomedical ethicists linkurl:Jonathan Kimmelman;http://www.mcgill.ca/biomedicalethicsunit/faculty/kimmelman/ and linkurl:Alex John London;http://www.hss.cmu.edu/philosophy/faculty-london.php of McGill University and Carnegie Mellon University, respectively, in an linkurl:opinion piece;http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001010 published today (March 8th) in PLoS Medicine. The Scientist talked to the duo about the disconnect between preclinical and clinical research, and what can be done to fix it.The Scientist: What...
Alex LondonTS
Jonathan Kimmelman of McGill University
Image: Courtesy of Jonathan Kimmelman
Jonathan KimmelmanTSALTSJK

Download Flash player to listen to a conversation on the low success rates of drug candidates


Bioethicists Alex London of Carnegie Mellon University and Jonathan Kimmelman
of McGill University discuss why so many of the pharmaceutical compounds
that make it into clinical trials don't become marketable products.