Human Trials: Scientists, Investors, and Patients in the Quest for a Cure

Human Trials: Scientists, Investors, and Patients in the Quest for a Cure

Human Trials: Scientists, Investors, and Patients in the Quest for a Cure

Human Trials: Scientists, Investors, and Patients in the Quest for a Cure

Synopsis

Over fifty million people suffer from some form of autoimmune disease -- multiple sclerosis, arthritis, lupus, and other afflictions in which the body attacks itself -- none of them with a lasting cure. Susan Quinn has investigated the worlds where new autoimmune drugs are being developed: the research labs, the drug-company boardrooms, and the clinics where patients become "subjects" in the search for new medicines and treatments. Her exciting story is one of real people: fiercely competing scientists, ambitious venture capitalists, and, above all, anxious, sick human beings. She takes the reader inside these otherwise closed worlds, into the lead investigator's diaries, the tense closed-door meetings with investors, and the hopeful or heart-rending encounters in doctor's offices. Hers is the archetypal story of all medical research: the roller-coaster trip from the lab bench to the medicine cabinet, in which only a very few new drugs and treatments survive. Susan Quinn, author of the acclaimed biography Marie Curie, catches the hopes, triumphs, and crushing failures, the greed and the idealism in these dramatic human trials.

Excerpt

Most of neurologist howard weiner's days are spent in his laboratory or on the road, talking at conferences. But on Tuesdays, he takes the white coat, size 42 long, down from his office door, pulls it on over his blazer, and walks from his lab to the multiple sclerosis clinic at Brigham and Women's, a Harvard teaching hospital in Boston.

On this particular Tuesday, it's windy and cold as he heads across the mall of Harvard Medical School, his white coat flapping, at a walk that verges on a trot. Inside the hospital, he swings by the coffee shop and picks up juice and a blueberry muffin to be consumed between consultations, and hurries down the long corridor everyone calls "the Pike."

On the Pike, which connects the old and new Brigham hospital buildings that have accumulated over a century, Weiner slows momentarily to meet and greet other white coats moving in the opposite direction. Then he hurries across the grand hospital lobby and through the neurology waiting area to the doctors' room, where he scans the roster of multiple sclerosis patients he will see that morning. As usual, he recognizes most of the names on the list: Many of them are long-term patients, and most of them are not . . .

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