john Hudson

A professor from Bath University today has warned that valuable research in drug development is lost in a "Valley of Death", a phase between the completion of basic research and successful innovation, meaning it never reaches the market.

Professor John Hudson from the Department of Economics outlines his concerns in a paper entitled ‘Into the Valley of Death: Research and innovation’, published in Drug Discovery Today, where he examines the relationship between the pharma industry and academia across the UK, US and Europe.

His paper concluded that this cooperation is imperfect and is hindering novel drug discovery.

After studying a number of case studies from the UK, US and Europe, Professor Hudson determined that slow changes are taking place, however research financers often still operate using older, linear innovation models and fail to consider the commercialisation of outcomes until too late in the process, for example when a research project in near to completion.

"While this situation is negative for drug development, there is an alternative, more positive scenario slowly emerging. We’re starting to see industry, academia, research funders and even central government cooperating on commercialisation planning at the start of a research project," Hudson said.

He also says that UK universities are loosing out on financial gain from their research because they cannot compete with big pharma companies.

"Public money is being used not just to promote research per se but also increasingly as a tool of industrial and economic policy to provide the cutting edge products and services which will enable firms to compete in the global economy. This is happening throughout the EU and indeed the USA too," Hudson added.

However, Professor Hudson says there is a lack of this type of progression happening in the UK, and homegrown research paid for by public money needs to be utilised for the country’s economic advantage.

"But the tool is not finely honed. It is also often the case that the firms ultimately benefitting from the research are foreign-based multinationals and, hence, the boost is to other economies," he concludes.

Photo: Professor Hudson believes valuable research in drug development is lost in a "Valley of Death". Image: Courtesy of University of Bath.