Collaboration Is Key to Wales' Medical Research; Models of Investment in the Discovery of Medicines Are Evolving. Here, ABPI, Health Research Wales and the National Institute for Social Care and Health Research Clinical Research Centre Look at the Collaboration Taking Place in This Field
IN this 24/7, digital age, increasingly dominated by social media, we often hear of 'magic bullet' medical breakthroughs and discoveries.
Would that it were that simple. It's a little-known fact that it takes more than 12 years and costs around PS1.15 billion to research and develop each new medicine.
While most people believe that medical research is something carried out by people in white coats behind closed doors, in hospitals or laboratories, this is only part of the story. The model for investment in the discovery of medicines is evolving and moving into an interconnected eco-system of collaboration and partnerships, as it's been discovered that more can be achieved when researchers from academia and the clinic work with industry colleagues.
The potential for collaborations based on excellence now dominates the decisions on where investments are placed by the pharmaceutical industry - excellence in knowledge, excellence in understanding, excellence in ideas generation and excellence in delivery.
This concept - the 'collaboration of excellence' - will drive medicine discovery into the future, as we translate our understanding of human biology and the genome into the development of specialised, or stratified, medicines which best align with the health needs of the individual.
The pharmaceutical industry is already aware of the centres of clinical excellence available in Wales in disease areas such as diabetes, oncology and dementia. From independent reports, such as that released recently by academic journal publisher Elsevier, we increasingly recognise that Welsh centres of academic research have improved significantly over recent years, closing the gap on England and Scotland and in the process, outperforming many European and international countries of similar size.
However, central to translating a good idea from academia to a lifesaving or life-improving medicine which doctors can prescribe, is having a better understanding of how treatments work in the real world, with real patients.
To be sure how well treatments work, how safe they are and how they can be improved, researchers need to do a lot more studies and clinical trials involving people who already suffer from the conditions which they are trying to treat more effectively. The contribution of every single person who takes part in research or a clinical trial is very significant. That is why it is re-assuring that Wales benefits from a public which understands the importance of research and innovation.
At the end of last year a survey by YouGov, which was commissioned by the Welsh NHS Confederation and supported by ABPI and the 1000 Lives Campaign, looked at the views of the Welsh public on their health services and treatments. The Survey showed that an amazing 78% of respondents believed it was important that patients were encouraged to participate in research for the development of new therapies and medicines.
This is a staggeringly positive figure, and should act - alongside Elsevier's findings - as encouragement for the Welsh Government, NHS Wales and researchers, to ensure ongoing engagement with the public and patients in this area. This could provide the starting point for 'Laboratory Wales', further enhancing the country's potential to become
a fastbreeder for life sciences and the development of medicines.
The development of a Wales infrastructure in e-health and genomics research, alongside routine patient care, will enable more effective research, from the feasibility, recruitment and management of trials, to observing patient outcomes. The quality and adoption of this new, real world - or 'Big Data' - technology across Wales will be fundamental. …