The implementation of our strategic plan is guided by a broad and inclusive description of translational medicine to reflect the diversity of scientific disciplines involved in translational research within our Society. For our division, translational research, translational science and translational medicine are used interchangeably with a unifying principle that the ultimate purpose is to improve human health via a “bench to bedside” approach. There are many definitions of translational medicine as well as translational science and translational research, which provide context for our efforts. John Hutton defines translational research as “Research [that] transforms scientific discoveries arising from laboratory, clinical or population studies into new clinical tools and applications that improve human health by reducing disease incidence, morbidity and mortality.” Another perspective is “Translational research fosters the multidirectional integration of basic research, patient-oriented research, and population-based research, with the long-term aim of improving the health of the public.”
Discoveries about the molecular basis of disease provide unprecedented opportunities to translate research findings into new medicines. However, developing a brand-new drug takes an enormous amount of time, money and effort, mainly due to bottlenecks in the therapeutic development process. Delays and barriers mean that translation of a promising molecule into an approved drug often takes more than 14 years. It is crucial to advance strategies to reduce this time frame, decrease costs and improve success rates.
Drug repurposing is one such strategy. Many agents approved for other uses already have been tested in humans, so detailed information is available on their pharmacology, formulation and potential toxicity. Because repurposing builds upon previous research and development efforts, new candidate therapies could be ready for clinical trials quickly, speeding their review by the EMA / FDA and, if approved, their integration into health care.
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