By Susan Schaeffer, Editor
Both the greatest promise and the biggest challenge in treating progressive diseases lie in intervening early, before disease processes become too complex to intercept and damage to tissues and systems becomes irreversible. In many settings, basic and translational research are beginning to reveal the molecular drivers of the transition from healthy to disease states, offering the tantalizing prospect of cutting these processes off before illness even begins.
There have been numerous successful examples of intercepting disease with pharmaceuticals in cardiovascular disease, and several companies have an interception program here or there in other disease areas. But for the most part the pharmaceutical R&D apparatus isn't set up for large scale, rapid development of interventions that can interrupt the transition from health to disease. Nor is the regulatory system set up to run trials in this setting in a meaningful time frame and at a reasonable cost.