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Assessing the translatability of drug projects: what needs to be scored to predict success?


Drug development projects have high attrition rates, often because efficacy and safety issues have not been foreseen. More effective prediction of 'translational success' could therefore have a key role in addressing the widely acknowledged problems with weak drug development pipelines. Here, I discuss how a scoring system to systematically assess key determinants of translational success, such as biomarkers and animal and human data, could help identify deficiencies and potential improvements, and increase the reliability of portfolio risk estimates.

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Figure 1: Translational assessment in drug discovery and development.

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Correspondence to Martin Wehling.

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Competing interests

M.W. was employed by AstraZeneca R&D, Molndal, as Director of Discovery Medicine (that is, translational medicine) from 2004 to 2006, while on sabbatical leave from his professorship at the University of Heidelberg. Having returned to this position in January 2007, he receives lecturing and consulting fees from Pfizer, Roche, Daiichi–Sankyo, Novartis, PAION and Lilly. He serves as a consultant to 4D Biomedical, Cambridge, UK, to promote translational assessment.

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Early Detection Research Network, Biomarker Development Laboratories

Early Detection Research Network, Biomarker Reference Laboratories

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Early Detection Research Network, Data Management and Coordinating Center

Early Detection Research Network, Informatics Center

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Wehling, M. Assessing the translatability of drug projects: what needs to be scored to predict success?. Nat Rev Drug Discov 8, 541–546 (2009).

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