EU Science Hub

Alzheimer’s disease, and breast and prostate cancer research: Translational failures and the importance to monitor outputs and impact of funded research

Abstract: 

Dementia and cancer are becoming increasingly prevalent in Western countries. In the last two decades, research focused on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and cancer, in particular, breast cancer (BC) and prostate cancer (PC), has been substantially funded both in Europe and worldwide. While scientific research outcomes have contributed to increase our understanding of the disease etiopathology, still the prevalence of these chronic degenerative conditions remains very high across the globe. By definition, no model is perfect. In particular, animal models of AD, BC, and PC have been and still are traditionally used in basic/fundamental, translational, and preclinical research to study human disease mechanisms, identify new therapeutic targets, and develop new drugs. However, animals do not adequately model some essential features of human disease; therefore, they are often unable to pave the way to the development of drugs effective in human patients. The rise of new technological tools and models in life science, and the increasing need for multidisciplinary approaches have encouraged many interdisciplinary research initiatives. With considerable funds being invested in biomedical research, it is becoming pivotal to define and apply indicators to monitor the contribution to innovation and impact of funded research. Here, we discuss some of the issues underlying translational failure in AD, BC, and PC research, and describe how indicators could be applied to retrospectively measure outputs and impact of funded biomedical research.