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Success in translational research: lessons from the development of bortezomib


The high price of many innovative drugs, which is in part due to the considerable expense and risk involved in drug development, underlines the need for more efficient approaches to bring drugs to the market, with more effective translational research in particular identified as an important part of such strategies. Here, the development of the cancer drug bortezomib (Velcade; Millennium Pharmaceuticals) by a biotechnology company — Myogenics/ProScript — started by academics from Harvard University is discussed to dissect the key academia–industry/public sector–private sector interactions that made the development of this drug a success despite many barriers. A model to explain how and why bortezomib was approved in record time is presented, and areas for public-policy initiatives to improve translational research in general are highlighted.

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Figure 1: The proteasome, nuclear factor-κB and bortezomib.
Figure 2: The 'Core Model'.


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This research was co-sponsored by the Organization of American States (OAS) through the Panamá Permanent OAS Diplomatic Mission, Washington DC, USA. The author thanks F. Murray for guidance on his graduate thesis and P. Elliott, N. Demirdöven and D. Morand for their critical reading of this manuscript and their constructive suggestions.

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Sánchez-Serrano, I. Success in translational research: lessons from the development of bortezomib. Nat Rev Drug Discov 5, 107–114 (2006).

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