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Discovery & Development Clinical Trials

Cancer Complexity

What is the biggest challenge that we face in our mission to bring new, effective medicines to patients? In my view, it’s attrition. In 2004, Kola and Landis reported that only one in 20 new chemical entities (NCEs) being developed for cancer make it to the market (1), with other indications faring somewhat better. A more recent analysis from 2014 suggests that this picture hasn’t really changed and, if anything, it has become worse (2). The success rate is frankly abysmal. So, what can we do to reduce attrition rates? What are the challenges and how do we overcome them? There is no quick, easy fix. We need a major transformation in the way we develop drugs, spanning preclinical development, how clinical trials are designed, and the way in which drugs are currently approved. It isn’t possible to cover every aspect here, but I’ll give you a few ideas to get you thinking.

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About the Author

James Ritchie

James says that he wants to live in a world where the word “cancer” no longer holds any fear, and he has dedicated his professional career to achieving this aim, having been involved in cancer drug discovery and development since 2001. His experience has spanned the entire continuum from early discovery through to pivotal clinical development and he is currently the drug development scientist at Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development. The remit of the CDD is the translation and early clinical development of new anti-cancer agents covering everything from small molecules to immune and cellular based therapies.

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