Time and again, the scientists, doctors, drug makers and regulators who gathered Tuesday in Kansas City to talk about new cancer drugs spoke of the "valley of death."
It's the long-cursed chasm between jaw-dropping breakthroughs in basic science — often unearthed at universities — and the manufacture of drugs that can battle your tumor.
New drugs are being approved at about the same rate they were in 1950, a rate the assembled experts said belied advances in medical research.
Tuesday's symposium was convened in response to large pharmaceutical companies moving away from start-to-finish drug development. Instead — and with unimpressive success — they have experimented with partnerships with academics and clinicians.
That shift has come as a way to make better use of basic science research carried out at universities and foundations, hoping to leverage the tens of billions of government dollars spent each year to support academic studies.
Bioscience "holds promise like no other area of human endeavor," Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services secretary, told Tuesday's town hall-style meeting on cancer drug research at the Kauffman Conference Center in Kansas City.
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