Originally posted on TED Blog:
When you pop a pill, do you know how it works? Most modern drugs target specific molecules, interacting with disease at the molecular level. But while we know the molecular causes of roughly 4,000 diseases, a very slim 6 percent of those diseases have a safe and effective drug to treat them. Why? Because of the incredible difficulty and cost of finding a compound that is perfectly shaped to interact with a molecular cause, and that also happens to be safe.
Francis Collins, the Director of the National Institutes of Health, wants to help this process along. [ted_talkteaser id=1696]In yesterday’s talk, given at TEDMED 2012, Collins makes a bold case for translational research to produce better drugs, faster. What does “translational” mean? It means research that takes a particular look at basic scientific discoveries and asks: how can we make an actual medicine from this? To that end he helped launch the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences in 2011. NCATS aims to do away with the costly and time-consuming bottlenecks that prevent new drugs from coming to market.